Blog: 21 March 2016Housing Bill proposes communication of financial benefits

Natalie Lillis

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Natalie Lillis

Senior Planner

Ebbsfleet office

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As proposals for the Housing and Planning Bill become public, one particularly interesting element emerges, which places a duty on local planning authorities to ensure planning reports record details of the financial benefits likely to accrue as a result of development which specifically detail potential ‘local financial considerations’.

Currently, local planning authorities should ‘have regard’ to material considerations in dealing with applications, including any ‘local finance consideration’, which could include grants or financial assistance from a minister or sums received from CIL contributions.

Despite amendments to the Planning Practice Guidance, suggesting that these ‘local finance considerations’ may be noted within committee reports for housing applications, there’s still concern within Government that the potential financial benefits are still not fully set out publicly, in a transparent way.

Although existing policy and guidance encourage ‘local financial contributions’ to be listed, the Technical Consultation of the Planning and Housing Bill therefore goes one step further and explicitly refers to the fact that financial benefits are not always presented during the course of the decision-making process. This in turn negatively impacts on local transparency, preventing local communities from understanding the full benefits of a development.

But this doesn’t just end at grants and CIL. Along with the listing of these ‘local finance considerations’, the Bill also suggests that consideration should be given to all the economic benefits that housing can deliver such as council tax revenue, business rates revenue and section 106 payments.

There is therefore a clear requirement from the Government (both in current and draft legislation) that the financial contribution of a development forms part of the determination process.

The proposed actions to make the potential ‘financial contributions’ more obvious to the public are welcomed as it provides the development industry with a mechanism to demonstrate the positive economic benefits of a scheme adding transparency to the determination process.

Our ‘BW Plus’ Economic Benefits Toolkit is intended to address this very aspect of sustainable development and seeks to publicise these potential economic benefits generated and this extends beyond the potential ‘financial contributions’ to examine the potential economic consequences of a scheme.

Our communication of economic benefits, whether it be presented via infographics or as a report, details the ‘local financial considerations’ proposed by the Bill. Further to this, the inclusion of council tax and business rates is also reviewed as part of every assessment.

We look at how an area could be positively affected throughout the development life cycle, from the temporary employment effects during the construction phase to long-term shifts generated through the accommodation of economically active residents, an increase in local expenditure and employment opportunities.

Clearly presenting the ‘financial contributions’ and potential economic consequences is vital to understanding how a development will contribute to the sustainability of a community.

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Housing and Planning Bill, Research, Planning