The Housing and Planning Bill received Royal Assent on 12th May and has now become the Housing and Planning Act - one of the most wide-ranging pieces of planning legislation for a generation.

This introduces a raft of changes to the planning system, which were fleshed out in the Queen's Speech last week.

Measures are now in place that require all new developments to include 20% of starter homes for first-time buyers at a 20% discount and the Right to Buy scheme has been extended to Housing Association tenants. Moving forward, council tenants earning over £30,000 (£40,000 in London) will have to 'pay to stay' in their houses.

'Permission in principle' - which essentially grants planning permission without the need for a formal process - will also be introduced for sites identified in Local and Neighbourhood Plans. There will also be a new register of brownfield site to encourage developments which benefit from permission in principle.

In relation to the Private Rented Sector, the Housing section of the Act includes banning orders for rogue landlords who have been deemed unfit and improper or convicted of licensing offences for example. Local authorities and councils will also be required to improve the sharing of data of bad landlords.

In addition, 'rent clawback' measures will give tenants more rights to claim back rent payments if they have had to endure poor accommodation and service.

The proposal to allow competition in deciding planning applications has been limited to a pilot scheme in the Act so the impact of this change will be limited at present whilst paving the way for private bodies to potentially take on this role in the future. Developers, both corporate and individual, will also be able to submit planning applications for non-major developments directly to the Planning Inspectorate rather than their local authority if the local authority has a record of very poor performance - previously this right was limited to major development only.

Alison Broderick, Planning Manager at Platinum Property Partners, commented: "The new Housing and Planning Act contains many new measures that will hopefully improve prospects for first-time buyers as well as raise standards within the Private Rented Sector.

"For too long, good landlords have had to withstand criticism because of the poor practices of a minority, so anything that will improve the sector and experience for tenants is a good thing.

"The Act is also very pro-development, which should see thousands of new homes being built and make it easier for existing housing stock to be brought back into use by landlords for example.

"There is a question around whether developers will now substitute the affordable home requirement for starter homes, but the detail is yet to be seen."

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