2018 Business Predictions: Pritpal Singh Swarn, Partner, Spearing Waite

Pritpal Singh Swarn, Partner, Spearing Waite LLP

Continuing our series, in which Business Link Magazine invites business leaders within our region to offer up their predictions for the year ahead, here’s what Pritpal Singh Swarn, Partner at Spearing Waite, has to say about 2018.

Planning in an uncertain market…….

Whilst the roller coaster ride continues on Brexit, what it means and how it will end up probably makes the domestic situation a little uncertain from the planning perspective.

Whilst the differences over Brexit will no doubt continue to hit the headlines in 2018, we can perhaps all agree what is not in dispute…… there is a national housing shortage, which appears to be rolled over each year. The picture more local to the East Midlands, according to the National Housing Federation is not very encouraging. House prices have increased in this region by 12% since 2001 and the average house price is £179,500, which is 7.31 times average earnings.

The Chancellor’s Autumn Budget re-emphasised the Conservative party’s political mandate to build 1.5 million homes by 2022. The budget revealed a number of planning reforms to clawback the massive shortfall by increasing housing supply to 300,000 homes each year, all without unlocking any green belt.  A very tall order I hear you say!

Some key headlines one should perhaps watch out for in 2018; proposed intervention with Local Plans aimed at speeding up delivery of new homes; proposal to allow local authorities in high demand areas to borrow more easily for housing and to re-engage in house building; new garden towns to be built through public private partnership and greater use of compulsory purchase powers.

The government’s White Paper on housing issued in February this year set out some key proposals to fix the “broken housing market”, this has all gone very quiet  and I wonder if it will all kick off in the new year.  Some further revisions are expected to the National Planning Policy Framework but I suspect nothing much more than tinkering in context of the overall need to deliver net 300,000 homes each year.

So the crystal ball is showing housing, housing, housing… but I am not convinced there will be enough measures in place to ensure the government will meet its political pledge. Let us hope the need to deliver more housing does not overshadow the need to deliver employment and commercial provision and much needed infrastructure.