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Government urged to devolve powers to help council’s housing plans

News   •   Mar 01, 2016 15:30 GMT

South East England Councils (SEEC) have urged the government to give local authorities new powers to help them deliver their housing plans.

The SEEC were responding to the government’s Planning Policy consultation and put forward three key areas where amendments to current policy would aid South East councils to provide the new homes already set out in the local plans.

The changes would see councils given powers to incentivise developers to build approved new homes quickly.

They would also be given autonomy to decide the best mix of affordable homes to buy and rent for their areas.

Councils would also be able to set housing developer contributions for infrastructure to reflect local needs as part of the recommendations.

SEEC Chairman, Cllr Nicolas Heslop, said: “Councils are already working in partnership with developers and other organisations to progress local plans and provide new housing but delivery is still falling short of what is agreed.

“What we’re asking for is a range of powers that will enable councils, working with our local partners to respond to local circumstances and deliver homes. This includes powers to incentivise builders to deliver, and to free up funding for new affordable rented homes.”

South East England Councils was established in 2009 and is a membership organisation representing all tiers of local authority. The SEEC area covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East and West Sussex, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire and Surrey.

LGA figures reveal that an increasing amount of planning permissions are granted but not built. The South East saw 66,751 of these stalled developments in 2014/15. SEEC would like to see councils given discretionary powers to kick-start these projects, which could see them able to revoke planning permissions or charge council tax on stalled developments.

SEEC would like the Government to relax financial constraints that hold back council investment in affordable homes to rent. The shortage of affordable rented accommodation in high cost areas is being blamed for nurses, teachers and other lower paid workers are being priced out of the South East, with local businesses struggling to fill positions.

SEEC also would like to see councils, working with developers, being permitted to take account of local conditions to set appropriate levels of developer contributions. As things stand, developers of star homes and sites that contain less than ten houses do not need to pay towards the infrastructure needed by new homes or contribute towards affordable housing.

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