The proposed planning bill was one of 38 pieces of legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament.
In a break from the norm, the speech was delivered by Prince Charles rather than the Queen, after she had to pull out due to mobility issues. It’s the first time the Queen has not delivered the speech, which lays out the government’s legislative agenda for the coming session of parliament, since 1963.
Prince Charles confirmed that a ‘Levelling Up and Regeneration bill’ will see the planning system reformed in order “to give residents more involvement in local development”.
The bill was announced by the government over the weekend, and will give councils greater powers to use compulsory purchase orders, allowing them to acquire buildings without needing the consent of the owner if they are to be used for public benefit, for example converting them into housing.
Parash Raja, CEO at Market Financial Solutions, said that while the devil would be in the detail, it was “a start at least”.
He continued: “Let’s start with the obvious fact: the UK needs more housing, and fast. To achieve this, we need to make it easier to build more new homes and, crucially, also convert disused commercial properties into residential ones. Tabling the Planning Bill is a vital first step in hopefully addressing the red tape that prevents the delivery of new homes.”
Jamie Johnson, CEO of FJP Investment, added that it was crucial that housing was at the forefront of the government’s agenda, warning that “a root and branch shake-up of the planning system is still required”.
Reforming the rental sector
A Renter’s Reform Bill was once again included in the speech, as it was a year ago. The bill includes proposals to scrap controversial ‘no fault’ evictions, as well as introduce a new ‘lifetime deposit’ so that tenants don’t need to pay a new deposit each time they move home. An Ombudsman will also be appointed for private landlords, with a view to reduce the number of possession cases going to court.
Additionally, there will be a property portal introduced for landlords which is expected to help them understand obligations and give tenants performance information to hold their landlord to account as well as aiding local authorities.
A white paper on promised rental reforms is due to be published this Spring.
The speech also revealed that there will be a bill which establishes the UK Infrastructure Bank in legislation, which will be tasked with supporting economic growth and the delivery of net zero.
It was confirmed that the Leasehold Reform Bill would come into effect from 30 June meaning landlords can no longer charge ground rent on new leases. The bill will give leaseholders more transparent information on what leasehold costs cover and new leasehold houses will be banned. The government will also continue its work with the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate the mis-selling and unfair terms of existing leases.
A Financial Services and Markets Bill was also announced, which sets out to protect cash by ensuring continued access to withdrawal and deposit facilities across the UK. Further, the bill aims to introduce additional protections for those investing or using financial products from scams. It will also make banks reimburse funds to any victims of push payment scams.