Renewed Government pressure to free up abandoned commercial or industrial sites for affordable housing could change the face of Gloucester, according to planning specialist Paul Barton.
Paul said housing minister Brandon Lewis was determined to re-shape planning policy in order to speed up construction of starter homes to help ease chronic housing waiting lists.
“Although Gloucester’s cityscape has undergone a radical transformation over the last few years there are still isolated pockets of abandoned commercial buildings which disfigure the city’s smart new image.
“The new exception site policy encourages local authorities to work positively with landowners and developers to secure a supply of under-used sites suitable for housing for first time buyers.”
The policy will apply to sites on public and private land.
“The fact the policy directs that starter homes should be approved unless the local planning authority can demonstrate that there are overriding conflicts with the National Planning Policy Framework gives a clear indication of how importantly the Government is treating this issue.”
The new directive says starter homes should be sold to first time buyers at a minimum 20 per cent discount below their open market value, secured by a planning obligation which requires the 20 per cent discount is passed on for the first five years if the property is re-sold or re-let.
Local planning authorities will not be allowed to seek section 106 affordable housing and tariff-style contributions on these starter homes. Legislation will also be introduced should the Conservatives win the election to ensure starter homes will also be exempt from the new community infrastructure levy.
Paul Barton went on: “Interestingly, exception sites may include a small proportion of market homes, at the planning authority’s discretion. This could be essential to secure the required level of discount for the starter homes on the site.”
Paul, who works with private landowners and house-builders to promote schemes of up to 200+ units, concluded: “This policy could significantly change the city landscape for the better.
He concluded: “Any policy which offers the opportunity to ease some of the pressures on first time buyers in Gloucestershire is to be welcomed as without some form of intervention, those pressures are only likely to get worse.”