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RICS outlines its solution to tackle UK's chronic housing problem

Date online: 17/09/2014

Among a raft of recommendations, the report recommends the introduction of a new land classification, Amberfield - which would create a pipeline of 'ready to go' land, increasing housing supply and promoting development opportunities. 

Under RICS proposals, Local Authorities and communities will have to work together to label sites favourable for development as Amberfield and each Local Plan will have to include a set quota of Amberfield, ready to be developed for housing. The quota is expected to be set between 30 and 50 percent but the framework and guidelines for each quota would be open to consultation in order to match the specific needs of each Local Authority and community.

Amberfield sites would have to be developed within 5 years and therefore Local Authorities will be required to approve planning consent for Amberfield within a set time frame, otherwise the Authority would risk being  classed as 'failing' under the RICS proposed OfPlan assessment. The new classification will enable local housing needs to be met and would create a 5 year land supply that works for communities and builders. The community will have better understanding of the planning process, more control over what is built where, and be able to see the long term development plan.

While both brownfield and greenfield play an important role in the current planning system, both classifications block or slow development and local growth is being impeded by extensive battles to bring forward land. Amberfield will speed up the process and take out cost for both developers and local authorities - enabling homes to be built faster on the agreed sites. It will provide certainty to investors, unlocking development opportunities, and will also encourage local infrastructure investment.

The review of land classification, coupled with the other RICS recommendations - including Development Delivery Units (DDUs) and a nationwide housing zones programme - will cut through the bureaucracy barriers, speeding up housing delivery and encouraging cooperation across local authority boundaries, stitching together the regions.

The RICS Property in Politics report is the result of the largest consultation ever undertaken by RICS, with property professionals from across England sharing insight into the biggest challenges currently facing housing, planning & development, construction and infrastructure and what actions a future Government should take to remedy them.  

Jeremy Blackburn, RICS Head of Policy, commented:

“A new classification labelled Amberfield would speed up the delivery of appropriate housing stock. The housing market plays a fundamental part in the UK economy and adequate, affordable housing supply is vital to the UK's economic growth. The planning system needs to be responsive to the needs of customers and increased confidence is needed in which sites can be taken forward. 

We would suggest a quota of 50% Amberfield for most Local Authorities as it would enable them to deliver the appropriate housing stock required, but it is important to match the quota to the needs of the local community.

Housing must be a common theme across a range of policy areas, and the actions we are calling for would add real impetus to housing delivery. Successive Governments have failed to achieve delivery of the appropriate housing stock we require and we need reform now to give certainty for long-term investment.” 

Property in Politics Recommendations in full

The report puts forward 12 recommendations that RICS believe should be implemented by a future Government to build a vibrant, sustainable property marketplace in the UK.  RICS calls on a future Government to:

Housing
• implement Development Delivery Units and Housing Zones  
• issue Property Tax Forward Guidance within its first 100 days  
• deliver a Professional Private Rented Sector (PRS) 

Planning & Development
• introduce Amberfield: a new planning class 
• embed Local Plan Enforcement  
• lead a Resource Revolution in Planning

Construction
• create a National Procurement Framework 
• introduce a Construction Skills Investment Charter
• implement a Construction Finance Hub

Infrastructure
• produce a National Infrastructure Delivery Plan
• promote 'Olympic–style' Infrastructure Delivery Partners
• setup an Infrastructure Commission

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