In response to the Penfold Review, the Government will:
•• ensure the key consenting and advisory agencies have a remit to promote sustainable development as soon as the National Planning Policy Framework is finalised. This will ensure that these bodies consider the impact of their decisions on sustainable economic growth and swiftly approve consents when it is appropriate to do so; and
•• introduce a 13-week maximum timescale for the majority of non-planning consents, to speed up the consenting process and give certainty to developers. This will take immediate effect for government agencies.
In addition, the Government will:
•• ensure that there is a more effective mechanism for applicants to obtain an award of costs, if there is an appeal against refusal of a planning permission where a statutory consultee has acted unreasonably, through measures to be implemented in summer 2012. The Government will also improve the performance of the key statutory consultees in responding swiftly to applications. This will include key statutory bodies bringing forward an improvement plan by spring 2012;
•• build more flexibility into the new major infrastructure planning process, particularly in the pre-application phase, by summer 2012, as part of a light touch review of the process responding to feedback from users of the regime; and
•• ensure that compliance with the Habitats and Wild Birds Directives does not lead to unnecessary costs and delays to development, while continuing to support the Directives’ objectives. The Government is reviewing the Directives as currently implemented in England by Budget 2012 and is committed to tackling blockages for developments where compliance is particularly complex or has large impacts. In addition, the Government has announced progress on specific projects where compliance has already proved problematic, including Falmouth Harbour.
The Government will also:
•• review planning appeals procedures, seeking to make the process faster and more transparent, improve consistency and increase certainty of decision timescales. Proposals will be brought forward for implementation in summer 2012;
•• consult on a proposal to allow the reconsideration of those planning obligations agreed prior to April 2010 where development is stalled; and
•• consult on proposals to allow existing agricultural buildings to be used for other business purposes such as offices, leisure and retail space, to make it easier for rural businesses to find the premises they need to expand.
The Government will:
•• introduce a new build indemnity scheme to increase the supply of affordable mortgage finance for new build homes. Under the scheme, home buyers will be able to purchase new build houses and flats with a five per cent deposit. House builders and the Government will help provide security for the loan. The Government will take on a contingent liability which will build up in line with purchases under the scheme, to a maximum of £1 billion. This will help up to 100,000 families and young people to buy their own home;
•• reinvigorate the Right to Buy to support social tenants who aspire to own their own home, by raising the discounts to make it attractive to tenants across England. For each home purchased, the Government will provide an additional affordable home, in addition to plans to deliver up to 170,000 affordable homes through the new Affordable Homes Programme;
•• launch a new £400 million Get Britain Building investment fund, which will support firms in need of development finance. This will help to drive progress on stalled sites which have planning permission and are otherwise ready to start. The Government will issue a prospectus to interested developers by the end of the year; and
•• support new development, which could include modern garden cities, urban and village extensions. The Government will invite proposals from developers and local authorities for new developments which have clear local support.
The Government is committed, through the Green Deal, to improving the energy efficiency of buildings to benefit energy bill payers and the environment. As additional one-off support for this, delivering the commitment at Budget 2011, the Government is allocating £200 million to encourage early uptake of the Green Deal in its initial phase over 2012-13 and 2013-14. Further details will be set out next year and will be subject to state aid considerations.
The Government is publishing analysis showing that the stamp duty land tax relief for first time buyers has been ineffective in increasing the number of first time buyers entering the market. This relief will therefore end on 24 March 2012 as planned.