Autumn Statement: What's in it for Developers?

Picture of Harry Quartermain

Harry Quartermain
November 22, 2023
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The Autumn Budget Statement sets out changes to the Government’s tax and spend priorities. There were over 100 measures included in the Statement, among them a whole section reserved for planning and building. But, what was said and what does it mean? 


Decision times for planning applications 

The Chancellor has identified that it takes too long to receive a planning application. This won’t be news to anyone and we have been talking a lot about this over the past few months. The Autumn statement included a promise to let the full cost of business planning applications be recouped by applicants if the Council fails to meet delivery deadlines. 

This is likely to be similar to the way that Planning Performance Agreements operate currently - and therefore will only work if Councils are able to attract and retain good quality professional planners. And, the Statement seems to imply that this provision would only apply to commercial planning applications, not residential applications. We’ll see how this pans out. 

There has also been a promise to invest £5 million to incentivise greater use of Local Development Orders in England. 


Investment in Nutrient Neutrality Measures

Having tried, and failed, to remove the requirement on planning officers to even consider the impact of Nutrient Neutrality by new developments, the Government has promised to spend £110 million over the next 24 months to promote nutrient neutrality measures. They claim that this will free up 40,000 houses. 

Nutrient Neutrality offsetting is already an important consideration for developers. We held a webinar on the subject earlier this year, which you can watch here. Identifying offset sites for Nutrients, as well as Biodiversity (for which the requirements are due to commence in January 2024) will play a big part in your development pipeline. Watch this space for our solution to this. 


More funding for Local Authorities

The Chancellor has been writing cheques elsewhere, promising:

  • £5 million for DLUHC’s Planning Skills Delivery Fund for Local Planning Authorities to target application backlogs.
  • £32 million to deliver new housing quarters in London, Leeds, and Cambridge. 
  • £450 million to deliver 2,400 new housing units to house refugees and ease homelessness pressures. 
  • £2 million to address water scarcity in Cambridge, alongside £3 million to explore the case for a development corporation in Cambridge. 
  • £2 million for Leeds City Council to help deliver new homes; and 
  • £23 million for a bus network to unlock housing in the ‘Docklands 2.0’.

A final curve-ball: more PDRs

Having just consulted on a range of new Permitted Development Rights, which are yet to come into effect. The inclusion of a possible new permitted development right that would allow the conversion of an existing dwelling into two flats has also been included in the Statement. This change seems to be targeted just at those who already own a buy to let property. 


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