Chancellor’s Autumn Statement – Planning reforms.

Despite pressure from Local Government to allow authorities to charge a local planning fee for dealing with planning applications, no such announcement was made in the Autumn Statement.  Other planning reforms were proposed which committed the Government to a new target for affordable housing starts (400,000 units by 2021) and further reforms to the planning system which included a proposal to allow previously developed brownfield sites in the green belt to be developed in the same way as other brownfield land.

 

The Planning Portal Blog provides a good summary of the proposed planning reforms and can be accessed here,
https://blog.planningportal.co.uk/2015/11/26/autumn-statement-signals-further-planning-reforms-and-a-new-target-for-affordable-homes/

Autumn statement 2016

The Chancellor presented his Autumn Statement to Parliament on 23rd November 2016 and this contained a number of fairly minor changes to the business rates system in England. This included a change to the Uniform Business Rate multiplier for 2017/18. However, no significant reforms to the business rates system overall, were announced.

The Uniform Business Rate multiplier for next year (2017/18) for larger businesses will be 47.9 pence (compared with the current 49.7 pence). This reflects the effect of the 2017 rating revaluation. For smaller businesses it will be 46.6 pence (compared with the current figure of 48.4 pence).

Other announcements included; confirmation of the doubling of small business rate relief to 100% for small businesses with Rateable Values up to £12,000. In addition, there will be tapered relief for properties up to Rateable Value £15,000.

The Chancellor also set out Government’s intentions regarding Transitional Relief, which, as with previous revaluations is intended to phase in any significant changes in rates liability that might occur as a result of the 2017 rating revaluation. The basic principles are as follows:

  • Small properties, with Rateable values up to £20,000 (or £28,000 in London) the maximum increase in rates liability in 2017/18 will be limited to 5% (plus RPI inflation). The maximum decrease in liability in 2017/18 will be 20%, (plus RPI inflation).

 

  • Medium properties, with Rateable values between £20,000 (or £28,000 in London) and £100,000, the maximum increase in rates liability in 2017/18 will be limited to 12.5% (plus RPI inflation). The maximum decrease in liability in 2017/18 will be 10% (plus RPI inflation).

 

  • Large properties, with Rateable values in excess of £100,000, the maximum increase in rates liability will be 42% (plus RPI inflation). The maximum decrease in liability in 2017/18 will be 4.1% (plus RPI inflation).

 

From these announcements in the Autumn statement, it would appear that government is making efforts to support the occupier of smaller properties with the intention being to try to assist smaller businesses, although this is not always the case. There is however, clearly going to be a more significant effect on anyone occupying larger properties.

Planning Application Fees to Rise

Reported in the Estates Gazzette (8th Oct) it appears that the Housing Minister Gavin Barwell is likely to raise planning application fees, which haven’t risen since 2011.

Most developers would probably accept a reasonable rise if they saw a commensurate rise in the standards and levels of service from the hard pressed Local Planning Authorities. Any increased revenue should be invested to support and create a more efficient and effective planning system.

Interestingly and perhaps in stark contrast the Oxford Report on the SDLT rises in 2014 suggests that the effect on the changes in duty on properties over £1M have caused £8.3Bn lower turnover, £1.88Bn reduced growth output, 14000 fewer jobs, and crucially £450M lower tax receipts from the “wider” economy.

Government support for Housing

At the recent Conservative Party conference, Gavin Barwell the Housing Minister announced a £2Bn accelerated construction Scheme. The minister has pledged a range of initiatives and interventions to encourage greater house building to appear in a forthcoming White Paper. These will be announced during the Autumn statement on 23rd Nov 2016. Indications are that the thrust will be a focus on the supply side with a wide range of tenures being encouraged across the board with specific encouragement for SME Housebuilders and self builds and institutional PRS schemes.