New homes bonus ‘could be unlawful’
Plans to incentivise councils to build more homes could be unlawful, a leading campaign group has warned.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England has suggested that by linking the outcome of planning decisions to financial rewards, any decision taken would be tainted and open to question.
Under the government’s new homes bonus scheme, more details of which are expected today, councils will receive payments equal to council tax revenue from homes built in their area for six years after they are finished.
The CPRE has suggested any planning permission for new housing linked to the new homes bonus would stand a good chance of being overturned in a judicial review.
Neil Sinden, director of policy for CPRE, said: ‘Many councils are currently facing hard financial choices. In these circumstances it will be very tempting to seek to fill shrinking coffers by permitting any development, regardless of its environmental impact.
‘But decisions based solely on money, rather than on whether proposed development is appropriate and sustainable, could be hugely damaging. It could also undermine the fundamental principle that planning decisions should be taken in the public interest, taking account of land use consequences.’
A spokesperson for the Home Builders Federation said: ‘This detracts from the overall need to urgently introduce the new homes bonus and other building blocks of the new planning system so we can see more homes delivered that are urgently required.
‘We don’t want to get bogged down in legal arguments, and this is something the government needs to clarify as soon as possible.’