Social Housing and Planning Reforms: Nope to Hope 

Published: by Andrew Soar

A picture of some social housing

Big news: after our campaigning, the government has put down some changes to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which should build more social housing.

For the last year, we’ve been campaigning to put social housing delivery at the heart of the government’s planning reforms.

Almost 30,000 people have supported the campaign. The main amendment we wanted in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill was to change the rules around ‘Compulsory Purchase Orders’. The change would mean that Councils can ask for ‘hope value’ to be scrapped, so they can buy land at a cheaper price and afford to build social homes.

Compulsory Purchase Orders give Councils the ability to buy land off landowners – even when they don’t want to sell. A few weeks ago, Labour said they would expand these powers. Here’s some examples of how these powers are currently being used:

Scrapping hope value would make the Compulsory Process Order process much cheaper for councils so they can afford to build social homes.

We’ve also been asking Lords to support amendments to make every development include social housing, to make local plans take into account the local need for social housing, and to build social, not ‘affordable’ housing.

First: the good news

The government has placed its own amendments on scrapping hope value and making every development include affordable homes. These aren’t exactly the same as the ones we were pushing.

Both focus on building ‘affordable’ homes, rather than social homes. However, we still believe that these are big changes which will help councils build more social homes and ensure developers build their fair share. There has been some push back on the scrapping of hope value, but with government backing, these amendments will hopefully stay in the bill as it goes into the House of Commons.

Second: The ‘could be’ good news

We’re pursuing two extra amendments: one amendment would ensure ‘local plans’ consider the local need for social homes.

The other amendment looks at the ‘definition’ of social housing – attempting to tackle the issue that out of all the different types of ‘affordable’ homes, only social housing is genuinely affordable.

Unlike the government amendments, we’ll need to pressure the Lords to get these in the bill.

What next?

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is in Report Stage in the House of Lords. In the autumn, the bill will return to the House of Commons, and the amendments that have been made will be voted on. We’ll need all the help we can get to keep these important changes in. If you’d like to be involved, you can still sign our petition to scrap hope value.