In February, the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary Michael Gove announced The Government’s new Levelling Up White Paper. The overarching aim of this document is simple - to transform the planning system in the UK by spreading opportunity and prosperity to all parts of it. At present, it is clear that there are vast economic and social inequalities in different regions of the country and, in order to change the plan making for the future, a fresh outlook is needed.
The Government’s new approach to decision making, both on a local and national basis, is based on five pillars, which will assist decision makers both on a local and national level to strengthen the institutions driving local development for the better.
The pillars include: setting clear and ambitious medium term missions to provide consistency and clarity over levelling up policy objectives; central government decision making being reoriented to align policies with the levelling up agenda and hardwire spatial considerations across Whitehall; empowering decision makers in local areas by providing leaders and businesses with the tools they need to simplify local devolution in England; transforming the Government’s approach to data and evaluation to improve decision making; and creating a new government regime to oversee the levelling up missions as well as producing annual reports to the Levelling Up Advisory Council.
The new White Paper sets out 12 targets linked to policy objectives to meet the medium term ambition of the Government with a 2030 end date.
These targets or “missions” are under four objectives; guidance is also given with regards to specific targets and policies to meet these objectives.
Objective one: Boost productivity, pay, jobs and living standards by growing the private sector, especially in those places where they are lagging
Objective two: Spread opportunities and improve public services, especially in those places where they are weakest
Objective three: Restore a sense of community, local pride and belonging, especially in those places where they have been lost
Objective four: Empower local leaders and communities, especially in those places lacking local agency
To ensure that these targets are met, The Government will introduce new legislation and put some of the key levelling up process into statute. Two months since the announcement, there is still little information on what this will entail but it is likely to include additional legislation to extend the devolution process, which will need to be monitored annually. A new Levelling Up Advisory Council will also be created, which will chaired by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up and made up of leaders from industry, civil society and academia.
With relation to housing, the aim is to increase home ownership throughout the UK and improve the quality of new build housing. The Government has set an ambitious target of building 300,000 new homes per year, to be spread across all sectors. In addition to this, a new white paper for the private rented sector and a new Levelling Up Home Building Fund will be established.
The documentation goes further than just providing housing opportunities. This includes the introduction of County Deals and the creation of local growth funds to provide funding to improve local areas. Policies will also be put into place to support the regeneration of local areas and more cultural activities, this will create stronger and more cohesive local communities. Other benefits include safer neighbourhoods, better education provision and improved health and wellbeing.
Some market leaders have been critical of the new white paper, citing lack of funding to accompany the plans as a major concern. Whilst the proposals are admirable and supported, as is the concept of devolution in general, the major concern is that there aren’t sufficient plans in place to ensure that the targets are met. Commentators have stressed that deliverability will be key to a successful outcome here and that these targets will need to monitored, and reviewed on an annual basis.
What does this mean for CrowdProperty
Here at CrowdProperty, we are busier than ever with new borrower enquiries and have ambitious lending targets for this year. The housing white paper aim to even up planning opportunities in the country should provide further opportunities for developers in a wide range of geographic locations. One of the major issues that is apparent with the current planning system is the length of time it takes for a consent to come through, in many cases where there is a desperate need for homes locally. It is hoped that new policy will allow for the decision on allocations and where development should be focused to be down to those who will live, work and socialise in the area. The aim of 300,000 new homes per year is an ambitious one, and with a fairer planning system for all this should allow new developers and SMEs to access the market and establish their product over time.
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