Agenda item

The Lyons Housing Review


The Chair introduced Sir Michael Lyons, who had been invited to address the Board following publication of his recent housing review.  The review placed councils at the centre of supporting good quality and sustainable housing development, and supported the LGA’s proposals for a reform of the Right to Buy, locally set planning fees, broader compulsory purchase order (CPO) powers and powers to incentivise sites with planning permission to be built on.


Sir Michael explained the housing issues which he had identified as part of his review, which included making more land available for development, making sure communities get the homes they wanted and where they needed them, gaining a wider range of commissioners and builders, investment in infrastructure, building affordable homes and securing investment for both housing and infrastructure. 


Councils would have a key role as developers for communities alongside the private sector, and identify and lead housing growth areas.  The Board noted that the review had recommended that the Right to Buy should be reviewed to assess if it was meeting policy objectives, and also that the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) borrowing cap should not be lifted.  Sir Michael highlighted that the Treasury should consider using existing borrowing more effectively and extending individual borrowing caps on a case by case basis within the overall borrowing envelope. 


Sir Michael also highlighted the announcement that Bicester in Oxfordshire had been chosen as the site for a second new garden city by the government.  Up to 13,000 new homes would be built there, and a pilot project was already underway at Northstowe, a former RAF base in Cambridgeshire, with the capacity for 10,000 homes. 


In the discussion that followed Sir Michael’s presentation the Board made a number of comments, including:


  • Borrowing for housing was a prudent investment.
  • More housing powers should be devolved to growth deal areas.
  • Small scale urban extensions would create pressure without additional funding for infrastructure to support new housing developments. There was a shortfall in funding available locally for infrastructure. Sir Michael highlighted that planning for small or large scale urban extensions should aim to take advantage of existing infrastructure.
  • Local authorities would need to find a balance between ‘Right to Grow’ and green belt land.
  • Many compulsory purchase order (CPO) powers were out of date and contradictory and therefore required modernisation. Sir Michael highlighted that the Law Commission had stated that CPOs were out of date over ten years ago and should be reviewed.


The Board thanked Sir Michael for his informative presentation. Cllr Keith House also commented that the review of local authorities’ role in housing supply, which he and Natalie Elphicke (Chair of Million Homes, Million Lives) were leading was due to be published later in December 2014. 




The Board noted the report and agreed that the LGA’s present housing policy should be developed following publication of the Lyons Housing Review and the review of local authorities’ role in housing supply (due to be published later in December 2014). 

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