The small print from the Chancellor’s summer statement: Six key takeaways for developers and planning consultants

While the Chancellor’s recent summer statement unveiled a number of measures aimed at kick-starting the economy, the press coverage surrounding the statement only highlighted the key measures.

For the development and planning sector, for example, the stamp duty holiday took the headlines.

The Skyline Comms team have examined the government’s plans more closely though, and in this article, we have identified six key takeaways that developers and planning consultants should bear in mind.

1) The launch of the Construction Talent Retention Scheme:

The government’s Construction Talent Retention Scheme will support the redeployment of workers at risk of redundancy. This will help retain construction skills and match talented workers to opportunities across the UK. This scheme will be vital for partners in the construction sector, and by extension for developers who are looking to commence work on projects following successful planning applications.

Retaining these jobs will also be key if the government is to succeed in its Build, Build, Build agenda.

2) Confirming the Affordable Homes Programme:

The Chancellor used the summer statement to confirm that the £12.2 billion Affordable Homes Programme, announced during March’s budget, will support up to 180,000 new affordable homes for ownership and rent in England.

Alongside the recently released housing white paper and consultation, this policy is expected to be vital to the success of the government’s agenda over the coming years.

3) An extension to the Short-Term Home Building Fund:

By extending the fund, the government will support small- and medium-sized housebuilders that are unable to access private finance, with an additional £450 million in finance for smaller firms.

The government expect this extension to support around 7,200 new homes in England, and according to the government’s policy release, a proportion of this fund will be reserved for those firms “using innovative approaches to housebuilding”.

Looking at this extension, in the context of the government’s wider plans, we believe that it is likely this funding will be extended further to cater for the number of homes needed.

4) The allocation of the Brownfield Housing Fund:

This fund will allocate £400 million to seven Mayoral Combined Authorities, with 90% of the fund being available immediately.

The government hopes that this will bring land forward for development and provide around 24,000 homes in England.

It will be interesting to see how much faster this brings forward those easier sites, and whether or not it will be used a mechanism to deter the industry, and local authorities, from development of the Green Belt.

This is an interesting plan though, as the Mayoral Combined Authorities do not currently have planning powers.

5) A commitment to projects supporting local transport and digital connectivity:

The lack of local infrastructure is a common sticking point for many applications. A significant part of the community and political engagement campaigns we carry out for clients often revolves around this feature of prospective applications.

In his summer statement the Chancellor underlined the importance of these local infrastructure projects with a £900 million fund for ‘shovel-ready’ projects in England in 2020-21 and 2021-22 to drive local growth and jobs.

The fund includes investment to improve transport and digital connectivity, and innovation and technology centres, and will be provided to Mayoral Combined Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships.

6) A commitment to healthcare provision:

While we look at the theme of local infrastructure, communities and their elected representatives often talk about the provision of adequate healthcare within their area, especially when they are looking at potential housing developments.

Building on the commitment from last year’s general election, the government has announced plans to provide a further £200 million for the Health Infrastructure Plan, which will accelerate a number of the 40 new hospital building projects across England.

The government are clearly looking to show a real commitment to the Build, Build, Build agenda that the Prime Minister outlined at the end of June. These six key takeaways from the Chancellor’s summer statement show that commitment, but the recently released white paper is essential too.

Skyline Comms offers political insights at a local and national level, as well as political and community engagement to support applications through the planning process.

To find out how we could support your political and community campaigns during this challenging time, please email our Managing Director James Hockney on j.hockney@skylinecomms.com or call 07958 389713.