BPF responds to the budget

Budget 2015: developers laud business rates retention as vital to solve infrastructure funding challenge and boost regeneration.

Proposals that could see City regions retain 100% of their additional business rates revenue will prove vital in overcoming the UK’s infrastructure funding challenge and boost regeneration, the British Property Federation said today.

BPF Chief Executive Melanie Leech said:

“Allowing cities to retain the proceeds of growth from new development is a vital tool for local authorities. These pilots will give them the freedom to provide the local infrastructure improvements necessary to encourage development to take place, and will allow them to take a properly strategic view of how they grow their economies.

“At present, the vast majority of local authorities simply do not have the long-term certainty that is required to use business rates income in this way, so we hope that this is the start of a journey that will see greater powers devolved to towns and cities across the UK.”

The British Property Federation has welcomed plans to create the first 20 housing zones outside of London.

Chief Executive Melanie Leech said:

“The Federation was an early proponent of housing zones and we are pleased to see their rollout and the Government’s increased ambition to introduce them on brownfield sites.

“Spending cuts have meant that support for brownfield development all but disappeared during the recession. Housing Zones are welcome recognition that we can deliver significant amounts of desperately-needed housing on brownfield land, but that this will often need both central Government support and clarity of purpose at local level.”

The BPF also welcomed a new housing support package for London that could unlock over 4,000 homes on brownfield and public sector land.

Melanie Leech said:

“We very much welcome the housing support package for London given the acute need for more homes in the capital. However, the London Land Commission should be seen as the start of a process and not an end in itself, with strong incentives to dispose of public land for housing use, and a backstop of GLA taking responsibility for land that is slow to be used by other public bodies.

“As our members have shown, housing models can be developed that create a genuine partnership between local authorities and developers. These partnerships can earn local authorities an income through the leasing of land for homes to rent, rather than out-and-out sale of public land.”

The British Property Federation has welcomed announcements in Budget 2015 to help push forward a number of major regeneration schemes.

Commenting, Chief Executive Melanie Leech said:

“We are delighted to see that the Government has committed to enable the public sector to lead development in Northstowe. Increased empowerment of local authorities will undoubtedly have a beneficial effect on development, and we hope will inspire other areas to strive to achieve similar results. While the ambition to build out at twice the rate of the private sector route is admirable, we believe that corners must not be cut, and care must be taken to ensure that the essential elements that make places successful are not forgotten.

“The additional funding and ring-fencing of business rates income at Brent Cross is a welcome development. It is vital that the need for sustainable, mixed-use communities is not lost in the drive to build new homes, and this development shows real support from the Government for large, desperately-needed regeneration schemes that include not only housing, but commercial elements too.

“Garden Cities by themselves will not be the silver bullet to solve the current housing crisis, but they are undoubtedly part of the solution and so we welcome the creation of the Ebbsfleet UDC as a positive step towards bringing this important development forward.”

The British Property Federation has welcomed George Osborne’s final budget as a welcome further step on the road to meaningful devolution that could unlock infrastructure and development across the UK.

British Property Federation Chief Executive Melanie Leech said:

“Despite the limited time left in this Parliament, and the Chancellor’s limited scope for pre-election giveaways, the further devolution heralded in this Budget may have profound and far-reaching consequences. The challenge for the next Parliament is to continue on this journey and to make good the promise of reforms that will allow places across the length and breadth of the country to thrive.

“We are delighted that the Government has listened to the calls of the property industry and others to further increase the power of local authorities to shape development and growth in their areas through a raft of initiatives including new City Deals, Enterprise Zones and powers over skills, business support and transport.

“We also applaud the Government’s focus on bringing forward brownfield land and unused public sector sites for development. However, we would urge all parties to recognise that housing is more than just a numbers game – thriving, sustainable communities need places to work, to relax, and a host of other infrastructure that we need in our day to day lives.

“The infrastructure funding challenge is one of the greatest obstacles to growth, but the package of business rates announcements this week – greater retention by local authorities and a fundamental review of the business rates system – may provide part of the solution by allowing cities to finance new projects against a secure stream of rates income.”