Several significant property-related reforms, including planning, leasehold and renting reform, were announced in the Queen’s Speech. What was the reaction from the UK property industry?
On 11th May, the government announced their legislative agenda for the next parliamentary session in the Queen’s Speech. This involved a range of property-related reforms, including changes to planning laws, ground rent and renters’ reform.
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, says: “This year’s Queen’s Speech was one of the most significant in recent history for the property sector.
“With the Government focused on ‘levelling up’ the UK and bringing forward new legislation to modernise the planning system to achieve this, the property sector will undoubtedly play a fundamental role in supporting communities across the country to build back better.”
In the speech, the long-awaited Planning Bill was announced. This will speed up and simplify the planning process and cut red tape. There will also be a modern move from the traditional, document-based planning system to a digital service. The government hopes this will engage more residents with local authorities and developments.
Additionally, local plans will change. Cutting red tape will also dramatically reduce the average time of five years for a standard housing development to go through the entire planning system. For instance, land designated for new homes, schools and hospitals will receive automatic permission. These developments will be in the “for growth” category.
Currently, the UK property market is seeing strong levels of demand and property transactions. After months of record-breaking activity due to the stamp duty holiday, there is a lack of housing stock. Increasing the amount of housebuilding will be welcome. And these new planning laws could bring forward additional housing more quickly.
Propertymark’s Chief Policy Advisor Mark Hayward comments: “A greater supply of homes will serve to correct the imbalance between supply and demand which has been intensified by the stamp duty holiday. The government has made a number of announcements in the past on simplifying the planning process, however, this will only work if it really reflects local needs and demands.
“We hope the Planning Bill outlined today encourages the development of housing in more affordable areas, as at the moment, most of the development taking place is in areas that are unaffordable to first-time and lower-income buyers.”
In January, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced new ground rent legislation being brought forward for leasehold properties. In the Queen’s Speech, there was confirmation of this reform. This will put an end to ground rents for new leasehold properties.
However, many believe this needs to go further. For instance, some feel the reform should include people who already own a leasehold property. Additionally, many want to ensure these changes come into effect quickly.
In recent years, there have been changes to the legislation of the private rented sector. And more reform will likely come forward soon. Later this year, the government’s consultation response on reforming tenancy law and abolishing Section 21 will come forward. The proposals of the “lifetime” tenancy deposit scheme is also set to be published.
A white paper on the renting reform package will be released in the autumn. After that, legislation will likely follow shortly afterward. Because of this, many tenants, landlords and agents will be awaiting the full details of the renting reform package.