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Planning Bill presents opportunity to commit to longer-term housing investment

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The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has called on the Planning (Scotland) Bill to put in place a system to deliver a longer-term increased supply of affordable housing – beyond the lifetime of the current parliament.

In responding to the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee’s enquiry into the Planning (Scotland) Bill, the SFHA said that while the Scottish Government’s 50,000 affordable homes target, backed up by over £3 billion funding, was “extremely welcome”, the bill must make provision for increasing the supply of affordable housing after the commitment ends in 2021.

The SFHA has proposed several changes to the bill, which it believes will help to increase the supply of affordable housing of all tenures.

  • While the SFHA supports the provision for simplified planning zones (SPZs) for housing, in order for SPZs to meet housing need and deliver wider policy benefits, they should be developed based on a local Housing Needs and Demands Assessment that identifies the type and tenure of homes needed in the area.
  • The SFHA is calling on the Planning Bill to make provision for the transfer of land at existing use value in order to increase the supply of affordable housing.
  • While SFHA welcomes the provision for an infrastructure levy, it believes that land value capture (LVC) can do more to increase the delivery of homes and better places. SFHA supports calls for the bill to allow LVC to capture the uplift in value, gained through planning permission for housing, and for it to be used, for example, to fund the infrastructure required to service the site.  
  • Planning approval, or the purchase of a site with the intention of the development for housing, does not always lead to delivery of homes in the near future. SFHA believes that the use of Compulsory Sales Orders for land that has not been developed, and has lain empty for five years, would help to increase housing supply.

David Stewart, SFHA Policy Lead, said:

“While we welcome the Scottish Government’s current affordable homes target, which will help to meet outstanding need, the Planning Bill provides an opportunity to increase housing delivery and create better places beyond the lifetime of this parliament.

“Longer-term investment in affordable housing will have wide ranging benefits for Scotland and its people.

“Building affordable housing results in economic growth as it creates jobs and apprenticeships. 

“Good quality warm affordable housing has a vital role to play in improving the nation’s health as not only is it vital for a person’s mental and physical wellbeing, it can allow people with specific needs, such as older or disabled people, to stay in their own homes.

“The Planning Bill presents a significant opportunity to commit to longer-term housing investment which will not only provide much needed homes but allow the government to continue to tackle poverty and inequality in Scotland.”