Conservative Housing Bill proposals and the “Right to Buy”

Greg Clark MP, the minister who ushered in ‘localism’ for the Coalition Government, has returned to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to take on the top job. The new Minister played a key role in the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework and Community Infrastructure Levy.

Planners are still waiting for a Government response to the consultation issued earlier this year and it will now fall to Clark to decide how to take the policy forward. The consultation proposed an interim target of 50% of brownfield land to be zoned for housing by 2017, so the brownfield agenda is likely to be near the top of Clark’s to-do list.

The Conservative manifesto aims “to double the number of first-time buyers, and help more people own their own home.” The manifesto confirmed the extension of previous schemes as well as the creation of new ones. It said the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme would be extended until the start of 2017 and the Help to Buy equity loan scheme until 2020. The party also promised to build more homes that people can afford, including 200,000 starter homes built exclusively for first-time buyers under the age of 40 which would be sold at a 20% discount. It pledged to deliver a total of 275,000 new affordable homes by 2020. The previous coalition government delivered 217,000 affordable homes over the last five years.

The Conservatives have pledged a £1 billion Brownfield Fund designed to facilitate the construction of 400,000 new homes on brownfield land over the next five years. It also said that it would “ensure that brownfield land is used as much as possible for new development”, protecting green belt land . Local authorities will be required to have a register showing what brownfield land is available and ensure that planning permission for housing is in place for at least 90% of suitable sites by 2 020.

There is also a pledge of  “over £100 billion” in infrastructure spending. This includes a proposed £38bn on the railway network and £15bn for the road network.

Labour’s new leader in the Lords has warned that as the Conservatives have no majority in the upper House, they will oppose a series of proposed bills including the “Right to Buy”.

All this could well have an impact on the Rye Neighbourhood Plan.

–  First the target numbers of dwellings may have to be reviewed in the context of the right to buy proposals as some Housing Association affordable homes could be sold and become privately owned. This would mean that replacement stock has to be built. Advice is being sought from Rother DC about this.

–  Secondly, there are “brownfield sites” in Rye such as:  the former Tilling Green school, subject to proposals for houisng development by Amicus Horizon;  the former Freda Gardham school site, which is subject to a flood mitigation scheme, known as the Eastern Rother tidal walls scheme.

–  Lastly,  the pledge to fund more infrastructure could mean that funding for the proposed Bexhill to Ashford fast rail extension is allocated.






Anthony Kimber lives in Rye and contributes to the community as Chair Rye Emergency Action Community Team, President Rye Royal British Legion, Chair Friends of the St Mary's Church and Vice Chair of the Rye Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group. In recent years he has worked as a consultant on risk and resilience issues. He has experience as a strategic planner in Whitehall and abroad and has attended several seminars on Neighbourhood Planning.

Leave a Reply