Nothing quite says 'Christmas' to us planning nerds than a series of significant policy announcements* from MHCLG.  

This year, the MHCLG Elves are definitely living up to their reputation.  Hot on the heels of the Class E to Resi PD Consultation, Santa's little helpers** have unveiled the new look, revised, standard methodology for calculating five year housing land supply. 

At the time of typing, they haven't actually released the revisions to the formula itself - these are expected later today - but what we know to date can be summed up as follows:

  • There will be a shift in emphasis away from the South East, with more homes being provided in the Midlands and the North of England;
  • There will be a greater focus on delivery within urban areas - so that the 5 yr Housing Land Supply figures for cities and towns will increase, whereas those for more rural areas will decrease; and
  • The 'brownfield first' focus of planning policy is remaining firmly in place - with exhortations on Councils to reuse or redevelop vacant buildings and increase densities on 'underused land' before looking to build on 'green spaces'. 

Accompanying the revised, revised standard methodology, are a flurry of further policy announcements which can be wrapped up and placed under your Christmas Tree. 

These include:

  • The creation of a new 'Urban Centre Recovery Task Force' to advise on the development and regeneration of  town and city centres. This is apparently separate to the High Street Task Force, which MHCLG set up last year with a very similar sounding remit... 
  • The announcement of additional funding for the West Midlands and Greater Manchester Mayoral Combined Authorities to help them deliver new homes on brownfield land;
  • The launch of a new £100 million Brownfield Land Release fund to help unlock brownfield development on public sector land and bring forward more self and custom build development sites. Councils will be able to bid for this money from January.
  • Changing the way that the National Home Building Fund is distributed, to ensure more money makes it way to the midlands and the North of England; and
  • Re-announcing over £12 billion of investment in affordable housing over the next five years, including the new Affordable Homes Programme. Although this is far from 'new' money as it was first unveiled in the Spending Review in November. 

In addition, the announcement deliberately draws attention to MHCLG's latest spat with the Mayor of London over the London Plan*! by highlighting the Secretary of State's direction to the Sadiq Khan over the location of tall buildings in the London Plan. 

In short, if you were wondering how you were going to keep yourself occupied over the Festive break, don't. It looks as if MHCLG will be providing enough bedtime reading for all of us....

*and a significant Supreme Court Judgment - but the amazing Claire is going to be writing about that separately

** Well technically Robert Jenrick's, but that isn't quite so festive

*! which is definitely worth googling if you have the time. It really isn't Christmas without some 'family' drama and this definitely qualifies...