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FULL DAY CONFERENCE - 09.00 - 16.30 (including networking breakfast until 10am)
HBF POLICY CONFERENCE, 12th May 2022 - 1 Wimpole Street, London
The government’s planning reforms mark a “significant reform package” despite various proposals from the Planning White Paper being dropped, according to Matthew Spry, senior director of planning and consultancy firm Lichfields.
Speaking at the Home Builders Federation’s Policy Conference held in London yesterday (May 12), Spry said that the new Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, containing the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ (DLUHC) planning intentions in absence of an originally intended Planning Bill, no longer featured the “big zoning proposals” of the Planning White Paper consultation of 2020.
But, he said, “if you look objectively”, the government was still taking forward other white paper proposals as well as those included in the Housing White Paper of 2017.
The new Bill, set to introduce an Infrastructure Levy to replace section 106 agreements, design codes, methods to simplify local plans and “street votes”, would yield a “number” of consultations, Spry said. “There does seem to have been a perpetual revolution in planning for the last few years but the industry needs to be ready to engage in the debate on whether what’s proposed will deliver homes in the areas needed.”
He urged: “I implore you to look at these consultations as they will impact all of us.”
Also speaking at the conference, HBF’s Stewart Baseley gave an overview of the industry’s key challenges within a now tough environment, including building safety, nutrient neutrality, the environmental agenda and quality.
He noted levelling up secretary Michael Gove’s “far harder approach to homebuilders and homebuilding,” demonstrated by his approach to building and fire safety. “The rhetoric he uses is totally unacceptable in my view,” he stated. “I’ve told him to be more diplomatic; an image builds up in people’s minds of what the industry is like.”
But, despite the myriad policy hurdles to vault, “there are reasons to be cheerful,” Baseley concluded. “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the industry has the skills, the tenacity and the determination. The industry will survive. There will be brighter times ahead.”
The conference also featured speeches from Neil Jefferson, HBF’s md, on HBF and the industry’s work on building safety, and Edward Lockhart, ceo of the Future Homes Hub, who outlined the work of the Hub so far on the industry’s response to the environmental agenda, including looking at “policy fixing” to address regulatory conflicts.
Speakers also analysed the housing market. Savills’ Lucian Cook and Emily Williams and David Livesey, Connells Group’s ceo, considered the headwinds gathering against the backdrop of an enduringly strong market.
James Stevens, HBF’s director for cities and Guy Thompson, group director, environmental futures – Wessex Water/En Trade, explored the escalating issue of nutrient neutrality. Stevens said HBF was pushing for a change in legislation to rectify the problem which is blocking planning permissions for thousands of homes.
And Steve Turner, HBF’s director of communications, charted the journey to the New Homes Quality Board and the next steps for ensuring better home quality and customer outcomes