Government publishes Housing & Planning Bill

Earlier this week, the Government published its Housing and Planning Bill. The Bill takes forward many of the policy commitments to boost housebuilding introduced in the Government’s Productivity Plan – Fixing the Foundationsreleased earlier this year. Measures include:

  • Starter Homes: a new legal duty will be placed on councils to guarantee the provision of 200,000 Starter Homes on all reasonably sized new developments; they will be offered to first-time buyers at a 20% discount.
  • Local plans: local authorities will be required to have local plans in place by early 2017 or government will intervene to produce plans together with the local community.
  • Brownfield land: automatic planning permission in principle on brownfield sites will be introduced to bring forward more land for development.
  • Asset management: ensure the sale of high value council assets that can be used to support people to become homeowners through the extension of Right to Buy.

NECC welcomes the emphasis the Government is placing on boosting housebuilding and supporting homeownership. While Starter Homes are needed and will help a number of people make that first step onto the housing ladder, they are not a universal solution and traditional affordable rented housing remains needed in the North East.

We are concerned that the Government’s plan to allow builders to provide Starter Homes instead of affordable housing to satisfy Section 106 planning agreements could lead to reduced provision of affordable housing. It is vital that there is an appropriate balance between the provision of Starter Hones and affordable housing.

NECC agree that it is a priority for local authorities to have up-to-date local plans in place; however we urge greater attention as to why progress has been limited, such as deep planning cuts and the consequent lack of capacity in planning teams, with more action by government to address these issues.

Please give your view by leaving a comment on this blog or emailing


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Housing Minister launches call for evidence on local plans

Last month, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis launched an expert panel to examine what measures or reforms may be helpful in ensuring the efficient and effective production of local plans. Mr Lewis has now launched a call for evidence to facilitate this process.

The panel was established with a view to taking forward a commitment in the Government’s Productivity Plan for government to intervene and produce local plans in partnership with local communities when a plan is not in place by early 2017. It is hoped that the panel will facilitate any necessary reforms to help local authorities get their local plans in place by the deadline.

Following the first meeting of the panel, the Housing Minister has announced details of a call for evidence to invite views from the planning and property industry, local government and other stakeholders to assist the panel’s work.

The call for evidence is looking for comments on the following issues:

  • Content of local plans;
  • The local plan preparation process;
  • Agreeing strategic requirements;
  • Implementation; and
  • Observations and experiences of the current system.

The call for evidence will close on Friday 23 October and all submissions should be addressed to

Please give your view by leaving a comment on this blog or emailing Rachel Travis.

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NECC response to apprenticeships levy consultation

NECC has now submitted a response to the consultation opened by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) on the Government’s proposals to introduce a levy on larger employers to pay for apprenticeships training. Our response can be viewed here.

We are strong supporters of apprenticeships and we see them as vital for equipping the workforce in our region with the skills our members need to grow their businesses. Following feedback from our members, our response calls on the Government to:

  • Develop a payment system that is as simple and transparent as possible for employers
  • Provide more detail on the support that will be available for smaller businesses outside the scope of the levy to train apprentices
  • Ensure that the new levy does not damage the good work of existing industry training boards and the training levies in the construction and engineering construction sectors

The consultation document does not include questions about the rate of the levy or how the Government will define a “large” employer. We expect that more details on these points will be announced later in the Autumn.

We would welcome the views of our members on this issue. Please get in touch by leaving a comment below or contacting Paul Carbert.

Posted in Education & Skills by paul.carbert. No Comments

NECC Development Group meeting

NECC’s Development Group met earlier this week to learn more about the uses and benefits of Building Information Modelling (BIM). RIBA Enterprises Ltd delivered a presentation to the Group which covered topics including:

  • An overview of the history and development of BIM;
  • The many uses and functions of BIM modelling software;
  • The NBS National BIM Library of free-to-use BIM objectives that can be downloaded and added to models; and
  • The NBS BIM Toolkit – an online library of BIM information.

During the meeting the depth of knowledge, expertise and experience of BIM in the North East became apparent, as well as the potential to develop and promote our region as being at the forefront of the digital construction movement. Notes for the meeting can be found here.

For more information on the Development Group or to get involved please contact

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2015 NEPO Supplier Survey now open

The 2015 NEPO Supplier Survey is now open for suppliers to share their experiences of tendering for North East local authority contracts.

The survey is an invaluable indicator of the challenges that suppliers face when tendering and will help inform NEPO’s future work through the information provided on issues including financial assessments, social value, fair payment and best practice from elsewhere.

The survey can be found here - it should take no more than five to 10 minutes to complete and will close for responses on October 11.

Posted in Buy North East by rachel.travis. No Comments