British Property Federation’s new roadmap for recovery

United Kingdom

The British Property Federation on 30 June launched its COVID-19 recovery roadmap “Building a Shared Recovery”. It is a holistic framework to feed into the Chancellor’s recovery measures, to better support investor-developers, the construction sector and UK businesses and communities.

A BPF survey of its members revealed that their intended spend on new development projects in the UK during the financial year 2020-2021 has reduced by £1.2 billion (£3.9billion down to £2.7billion) as a result of the impact of COVID-19.

The BPF’s new roadmap includes the following suggestions for government policy to drive more investment into creating more responsive, fit-for-purpose high streets and urban centres:

  • A Furloughed Space Grant Scheme – to support occupiers recovering from forced closure by covering their fixed property costs;
  • A high street ‘use’ for planning purposes;
  • A temporary relaxation of Sunday Trading Hours to help provide increased job opportunities for younger workers;
  • More use of Local Development Orders;
  • A temporary reduction or removal of Stamp Duty Land Tax on high street property transactions;
  • Business rate reform – including the immediate abolition of downwards phasing to ensure rateable values can better reflect rental values;
  • Introduction of Community Improvement Districts - a small council tax supplement (based on a local improvement plan and vote amongst residents) could be structured to support a particular retail place;
  • Introduction of an Entrepreneurs’ Space Rebate - empty rates paid in the previous 12 months should be rebated to a landlord if it provides space to a start-up or SME for a minimum of 12 months’ successful occupation.

The roadmap also includes the following suggestions for government policy to drive more investment into the delivery of new high-quality homes:

  • A temporary exemption for institutional investors in the build-to-rent housing market from the 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax surcharge;
  • A brownfield land presumption in favour of build-to-rent housing;
  • Government funding for Homes for Heroes – a national programme to deliver low-cost homes for the NHS heroes who have put themselves at risk throughout COVID-19;
  • New Government funding for social housing in support of the National Housing Federation campaign ‘Homes at the Heart’;
  • Update the National Planning Policy Framework to ask all Local Authorities to have an explicit planning policy on housing for the elderly, explaining how they are promoting choice. Accommodation, which clearly exhibits capacity for care, should not have to provide affordable housing except in exceptional circumstances, for example on very high value units
  • A national retrofitting programme – including reduction of VAT on residential repairs, maintenance and management;
  • Lifetime ISA support for renters.

Also the BPF notes that given the importance of the logistics sector as an essential part of our national infrastructure underpinning all aspects of our day-to-day lives, there should be a new planning presumption in favour of logistics development where a clear set of ‘logistics criteria’ are met. 

The BPF importantly proposes strengthening the presumption in favour of sustainable development in national planning policy and for decision makers, so greater weight is given to the contribution that development can make to meeting the country’s social and economic needs.

The BPF also urges the Government to consider how all of its policies can be used to incentivise faster progress towards net zero carbon and environmental net gain.