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Housing and Planning Bill amended by Lords at Report Stage 15/04/2016

The Housing and Planning Bill is now in the Report Stage in the House of Lords with the first of five scheduled days for debate having taken place on Monday 11 and Wednesday 13 April 2016.


As reported in the last edition of our bulletin, a number of significant amendments to the Bill were put down by opposition Peers and cross-benchers. The government was defeated on a number of significant amendments on the first day of the Report Stage on 11 April:


  • The House of Lords voted to give local councils the power to set the threshold of Starter Homes locally; and
  • Passed an amendment to introduce a 20-year discount period for Starter Home discounts requiring repayment of a proportion of the discount if sold within that period.


On the second day of the debate on the Report Stage on 13 April, Peers began debating Part 4 of the Bill, in particular, the provisions relating to the Right to Buy for housing association tenants and sale of high-value voids.


  • On the sale of high-value homes, Peers agreed to a government amendment to the wording of the Bill to redefine "high-value" council housing as "higher value" in the Bill.


This is anticipated to mean that the definition of higher value stock and the higher value thresholds are likely to be determined with reference to the local housing market valuations rather than the thresholds based on regional valuations included in the Conservative Party Manifesto.


This could be good news for councils in higher value areas in the south and south-east in that less of their stock may be defined as "higher value". However, it's almost certainly likely to mean that most stock retained councils will be caught in some way by the formula for calculating "higher value" housing and can expect to have to make some payment to the government under the RTB levy. The devil will be in the detail and councils are no nearer knowing how "higher value" will be defined or what they will be required to pay by way of the RTB levy. However:


  • The Minister also confirmed that Regulations setting out the definition of high-value homes will now be subject to "affirmative approval", meaning both Houses of Parliament will be able to vote on them - Peers in any event pushed this to a vote and defeated the government.


This will at least give members of Parliament and Peers the opportunity of further scrutiny when the Regulations are brought forward.


The Minister also indicated that the government were likely to bring forward some amendments on the face of the Bill at Third Reading to commit to one for one replacements and on this basis, Peers declined to force a vote on an amendment requiring replacements of the same tenure in the same local authority area for each home sold.


ARCH Policy Adviser. Matthew Warburton. has produced a briefing on the debate in the Lords so far outlining the amendments made to the Bill and what they mean. The briefing is available in the member's area under the Bulletin news section.


The Lords have set aside time on the 18 April and 20 April, and if needed, 25 April to conclude debate on the Bill at Report Stage.


A date of 27 April has been set for the 3rd Reading of the Bill, following which the Bill will pass back to the Commons. It remains to be seen whether when the Bill returns to the Commons, Minister's will accept all, some, or none of the amendments made to the Bill by the Lords.

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