Jonathan Layzell, executive director for development at Stonewater, says: “With figures from the National Audit Office reporting falls in staff levels, in addition to expenditure, ensuring planning departments are properly funded and resourced will be a key driver in speeding up the delivery of new much-needed homes. Currently, decisions regarding planning are taking longer than they should and in turn are not effectively meeting local priorities as quickly as needed.
“By increasing planning application fees for developers, including housing associations, local authorities can improve their operations to be consistent and fair, without additional expense to the public purse.
“While the government anticipates that the level of affordable housing delivered through the Infrastructure Levy would be equal to, or exceed, what is delivered through Section 106 agreements, the challenge here is how this will be monitored.
“It is vital that the government engages with the residential development sector, including private developers, housing associations and local authority housing strategy teams to ensure smooth implementation of the levy and that affordable housing delivery is maintained. Local authorities have a statutory responsibility for housing; if the need for affordable housing is not met locally, it would force more households into temporary housing, with the potential for a significant increase in the Housing Benefit bill.
“Ahead of implementing the Infrastructure Levy, taking a pilot-based approach across the country, rather than in one region, will enable us to ensure it works in different housing markets, whilst identifying and resolving any operational challenges without significant disruption to delivery.”