New compulsory purchase orders powers only beneficial ‘at first glance’

The Department for levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) have revealed new powers for councils to buy cheaper land, however experts are questioning whether this was the right move.

Yesterday, 30th April 2024, the DLUHC announced new powers for local authorities that will allow them to buy land for development via the use of compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) without paying inflated ‘hope value’ costs. This financial method estimates what land could be worth if it was developed on in the future, meaning councils were paying thousands to buy land for new homes.

aerial photography of dump trucks

The news has been welcomed with open arms as England has continuously fallen behind on targets to build more affordable properties. These particular establishments are also needed more than ever as the cost-of-living continues to bite.

A new report from the National Housing Federation discovered that by 2030, an extra 1.7 million households will be living in unaffordable homes and 600,000 additional households will be paying sky-high private rent costs, taking the total to 2.2 million.

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: ‘Enabling local councils to buy cheaper land through CPOs without paying hope value will allow them to build more of the desperately needed affordable homes the country needs, in the right places, for the people who need it most.’

Jacob Young, parliamentary under-secretary of state for housing, has claimed the new rules will also help ‘drive much-needed regeneration in communities across the country.

He said: ‘We know we need to build more homes and alongside our long-term plan for housing, these changes will help us do that, unlocking more sites for affordable and social housing, as well as supporting jobs and growing the economy.’

However, Lawrence Turner, director at Boyer, has remarked that the plans seem almost too good to be true.

‘This may seem beneficial at first glance – giving local authorities the ability to overcome financial and viability barriers to delivering housing, but my concern is that it will be ineffective and time-consuming, CPO is a lengthy and costly process, and many local authorities will lack the resources to do so,’ Lawrence said. ‘The CPO process frequently involves negotiations with multiple landowners, legal challenges, and delays. Landowners may choose to challenge the decision through judicial review, further prolonging the process. As such, it is far from the quick and efficient means of unlocking land for new development which is needed.’

Lawrence added: ‘The wider planning system in the UK is excruciatingly slow and bureaucratic, with local plans and planning applications often taking years to complete and the intrinsic problems that have led to this situation must also be addressed.

‘We need to see a more holistic approach to addressing the housing crisis: including reforming the planning system and providing support to councils, reviewing the Green Belt and delivering new homes in sustainable brown and greenfield locations will be necessary to truly make a meaningful impact on the availability of affordable housing in the UK.’

Image: Shane McLendon

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