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A Spring Statement with so much to say there's already a follow up WMS...

And with a nod to the non planning commitment to provide £81 million to develop new types of lasers in Oxfordshire I've raided the Austin Powers clip art gallery.

Mr Hammond was probably hoping for a quieter lead in to his Spring Statement but with late night voting on other issues that was not to be.  As a mid MIPIM treat I've pulled out the comments and commitment in this speech relevant to planning.  As always, there's already a follow up by way of further detail in a WMS.  

The statement started with a jolly good pat on the back and reminded us that we've had: -

  • the largest ever investment in England’s strategic roads;
  • the biggest rail investment programme since Victorian times;
  • and a strategy for delivering a nationwide full fibre network by 2033.
  • publishing an updated National Infrastructure Strategy alongside the Spending Review…

And particularly within Housing and the Environment.

  • Last year, housing delivery exceeded 220,000 additional homes.  …the highest level in all but one of the last 31 years.
  • Planning reform to release land in areas where the pressure is greatest;
  • A five-year, £44 billion housing programme, to help raise annual housing supply to 300,000 by the mid-2020s;
  • the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme;
  • abolition of Stamp Duty for First Time Buyers…

…which has so far helped 240,000 people onto the property ladder…

…and restored the proportion of first-time buyers to above 50% for the first time in a generation.

But today Mr Hammond can announce:

  • A new £3 billion Affordable Homes Guarantee scheme, to support delivery of around 30,000 affordable homes;
  • The launch next month of the £1 billion Enable Build SME guarantee fund;
  • And £717 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to unlock up to 37,000 new homes on sites in West London, Cheshire, Didcot, and Cambridge…the latter two being at opposite ends of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc... and
  • following consultation, the government will use the forthcoming Environment Bill to mandate biodiversity net gain for development in England…ensuring that the delivery of much-needed infrastructure and housing is not at the expense of vital biodiversity.


The Transforming Cities Fund – £60 million of investment in 10 cities across England, from the fund announced at Budget 2017. This will fund 30 new schemes such as bus station upgrades, new cycle lanes and road improvements, supporting the wider programmes being delivered by city regions as part of the Industrial Strategy. The 10 cities were selected for the competitive fund in September 2018, and are Derby/Nottingham, Leicester, Portsmouth, the Sheffield City Region, West Yorkshire, Southampton, the North East, Norwich, Plymouth and Stoke-on-Trent.

And to continue the highly irrelevant movie theme, in something that sounds a bit like "I know what you did last summer" or "Back to the Future" take 2 there is a promise that in the coming months the government will publish: -

  1. Planning for Future High Streets – A consultation exploring potential changes to help local areas make better use of planning tools to support their local high streets, including through Compulsory Purchase Orders, Local Development Orders, and other innovative planning measures.
  2. Independent Report on Build Out Rates – Introduce additional planning guidance to support housing diversification on large sites. Sir Oliver Letwin concluded that greater differentiation in the types and tenures of housing delivered on large sites would increase build out rates.
  3. Response to consultation on Planning Reform – Introduce a package of reforms including allowing greater change of use between premises, and a new permitted development right to allow upwards extension of existing buildings to create new homes.
  4. Accelerated Planning Green Paper – Publish a Green Paper setting out proposals on how greater capacity and capability, performance management and procedural improvements can accelerate the end-to-end planning process.
  5. Future Homes Standard – A Future Homes Standard, to be introduced by 2025, future-proofing new build homes with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency. The new standard will build on the Prime Minister’s Industrial Strategy Grand Challenge mission to at least halve the energy use of new buildings by 2030.
  6. Greening the Gas Grid – Accelerating the decarbonisation of our gas supplies by increasing the proportion of green gas in the grid. To meet our climate targets, we need to reduce our dependence on burning natural gas to heat our homes. The government will consult on the appropriate mechanism to deliver this commitment later this year.

Comment: - 

It remains to be seen what additional costs the Future Homes Standard and forthcoming Environmental Bill add on to the costs of the developers who need to keep building the 300,000 homes a year the country needs or whether further public money will be made available for these advances.  There's also a continued theme of tinkering around the edges but I would identify a conflict between the added freedoms of relaxing PD rights to the perceived required controls to deliver higher quality developments.

A new £3bn scheme will fund the building of 30,000 affordable homes, the chancellor has said, as he proclaimed that the government was on track to reach its target of 300,000 new homes a year in Britain.”