The Queen's Speech - Impact on real estate and planning

United Kingdom

The Queen promised, in her speech to Parliament on the 13th November, that her Government would seek to introduce the following measures:

  • Housing

A Homes Bill will be introduced that will require people selling their home to arrange a basic survey and complete a questionnaire on the details of the property for potential buyers. Ministers believe the packs, which will probably cost in the region of £500, will help to prevent gazumping because sales will be accelerated. They believe the introduction of "seller's packs" will halve the time it takes to buy a house in England.

The draft legislation will also seek to improve the standard of housing through reform of the "housing fitness regime" and tightening of controls on houses in multiple occupation through a mandatory licensing scheme. It is intended that, by 2010, all social housing will have to meet minimum standards, including having proper windows, an inside lavatory and a bathroom. 

  • Licensing

A draft Bill, intended to streamline the licensing system for premises selling alcohol, has been published. This proposes the abolition of fixed opening hours with wider police powers to close licensed premises without notice where disorder is occurring.

Local people will be given a greater say in deciding licence applications as licences would be granted by electorally accountable local authorities instead of magistrates. The views of local residents would be taken into account when deciding applications and the reforms would simplify the law relating to children and alcohol.

  • Waste

Councils will be given statutory targets for recovering biodegradable waste and preventing it from going to landfill under the new Waste and Emissions Trading Bill. Britain has a low recycling rate and faces a succession of legally-binding EU targets for reducing the amount of landfill waste. Water companies will have to keep up-to-date drought plans and smaller abstractors will no longer need a licence.

  • Planning and regeneration system

The Regional Assemblies (Preparation) Bill will enable referendums to be held on whether the regions want to have elected regional assemblies. The Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott explained that "This bill takes forward our [Government] commitment to provide England's regions with their own regional assembly. We have no plans to impose regional Government. The primary factor in deciding where a referendum should be held will be the level of interest in holding a referendum".

After a region has voted for an elected assembly, the Government intends to introduce a second bill, when Parliamentary time allows, to enable elected regional assemblies to be set up where people have voted for them. It is envisaged that elections following assemblies would be held within months of a second bill becoming law. This could possibly allow the first regional assembly to be up and running early in the next Parliament.

  • Removing the delays in the planning system

The Queen's speech explained that the Government will seek to introduce legislation to speed up the planning system whilst improving the involvement of local community.

The new planning bill is aimed at speeding up the handling of major infrastructure projects by Central Government, and also aims to correct problems that are widely regarded to affect the development plan process –simply that it is too complex and needs to be simplified. Instead the Government are proposing that development plans are produced which set the local regional framework, and against this, individual planning applications should be judged. The Government is also seeking to make the Compulsory Purchase Order system, simpler fairer and quicker.

For further information please contact Caroline Potter on +44 (0)20 7367 2721 or at caroline.potter@cms-cmck.com