Baroness Thornhill Written Questions

17 Questions to Government Departments tabled by Baroness Thornhill


Date Title Questioner
31 Dec 2020, 10:49 a.m. Housing: Construction Baroness Thornhill

Question

Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to consult with local authorities on the development of targets for new homes.

Answer (Lord Greenhalgh)

We consulted on changes to the standard method formula for assessing local housing need and have now considered the responses carefully. On Wednesday 16th December we announced that in order to ensure that the country meets the challenge of delivering 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, we changed the formula to focus greater need into urban areas to maximise existing infrastructure and to support development that reduces the need for high-carbon travel.

We believe the new method achieves the balance between these objectives whilst also providing certainty and stability during a period of economic uncertainty for our communities, businesses, and development sector. The figures we published alongside the new formula are only indicative, and local housing need remains the starting point for planning for housing need. Authorities should consider how this is best met based on their local circumstance, based on land availability, and relevant constraints.

We continue to engage with those authorities who are facing challenges. The Spending Review confirmed initial funding of £7.1 billion for the National House Building Fund (NHBF) over the next four years to unlock up to 860,000 homes.

31 Dec 2020, 10:49 a.m. Environment Protection: Planning Baroness Thornhill

Question

Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that any reforms to the planning system protect the environment.

Answer (Lord Greenhalgh)

Our proposals in Planning for the Future seek to improve environmental outcomes. This will be achieved by amending the National Planning Policy Framework to ensure that it targets those areas where a reformed planning system can most effectively play a role in mitigating and adapting to climate change and maximising environmental benefits, while protecting and enhancing the most valuable and important habitats and species in England. The Government will respond to this consultation in due course. The Environment Bill will make 10 per cent net gains for biodiversity mandatory for most new developments, and also introduce Local Nature Recovery Strategies to secure enhancements through development schemes and contributions. We have also committed to review the environmental assessment process to help promote a clean, green recovery from the effects of coronavirus, and are taking this forward as part of the Planning for the Future reforms. Environmental protection will be at the heart of this review and where possible, any new framework will go further to take advantage of opportunities for environmental improvement.

31 Dec 2020, 10:48 a.m. Affordable Housing: Construction Baroness Thornhill

Question

Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the possible impact the changes proposed in the Planning White Paper will have on the delivery of affordable housing.

Answer (Lord Greenhalgh)

The proposal to create a new Infrastructure Levy, as set out in the Planning for the Future White Paper, will support a more streamlined and accessible planning system. The new Levy will be designed to deliver at least as much onsite affordable housing as at present and will continue to be collected and spent at the local level, on priorities including infrastructure and affordable housing.

The consultation on the White Paper closed on 29 October. We are currently analysing the consultation responses and will publish a response in the Spring which will set out our decisions on the proposed way forward.

30 Nov 2020, 3:55 p.m. Football: Coronavirus Baroness Thornhill

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the reasons behind their decision to ask the Premier League to bail out the English Football League.

Answer (Baroness Barran)

Football clubs are often the bedrock of our local communities and it is vital they are protected. That is why the Government has provided an unprecedented financial support package for businesses, which many football clubs have benefitted from.

The Government is focusing its direct support on those sports and clubs most urgently in need after the decision not to readmit spectators from 1 October. Having spent heavily in the recent transfer window, professional football has demonstrated that, at the top tiers, it has the means to support itself through the pandemic.

I was pleased that the Premier League has made it clear that it will not let any English Football League (EFL) club fail due to the pandemic and I expect significant progress to be made imminently on an agreement for a financial support package for EFL clubs.

3 Aug 2020, 4:38 p.m. Housing: Construction Baroness Thornhill

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of their proposed First Homes policy on the provision of social and affordable rented homes.

Answer (Lord Greenhalgh)

The Government recognises the important role of affordable housing and supplying new homes of all affordable tenures. Affordable homes will help support people into home ownership; reduce the impact of high rents in the private rented sector where people struggle to afford it; and mitigate the risk of homelessness.

The Government is mindful of the trade-off between the level of ambition for First Homes, funded through developer contributions, and the supply of other affordable housing tenures. There are many factors that will affect this trade off beyond the level of First Homes delivery through section 106, especially any price/income caps or additional discounts in high value areas to increase affordability. We therefore do not consider it appropriate to make predictions until these factors are better understood through our response to the consultation, which we hope to publish soon.

The proportions of section 106 described in the consultation are illustrative examples and should not be taken as Government intentions at this stage. The lowest proportion at 40% was chosen as it is roughly equal to the current proportion of section 106 which delivers home ownership products (37% in 2018-2019).

31 Jul 2020, 2:44 p.m. Housing: Construction Baroness Thornhill

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the implications of their First Homes policy for the locally led planning system in respect of addressing local housing needs.

Answer (Lord Greenhalgh)

The Government is committed to making the dream of home ownership a reality for everyone. Affordability is the biggest barrier to home ownership, and while this is partly due to a shortage of housing supply, low interest rates and high rents have limited the ability for young people to save the deposit they need to buy a home. We believe that First Homes are a key means of helping local people, especially young first-time buyers, into home ownership and maintaining strong communities.

It is for local authorities to determine how and where to best deliver their housing needs, and as we set out in our consultation on First Homes, which ran between February and May this year, we are supportive of empowering local decision-makers and conscious of reducing discretion to respond to local circumstances. Our response to this consultation, which will be published in due course, will provide further detail on this.

31 Jul 2020, 2:44 p.m. Housing: Construction Baroness Thornhill

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many homes resulting from permitted development rights meet their nationally described space standard.

Answer (Lord Greenhalgh)

Permitted development rights for change of use to residential are making an important contribution to housing delivery, largely providing windfall housing that may otherwise not have been delivered through the planning system. The rights make effective use of existing buildings and help boost housing density, as part of our broader housing ambitions, without the need to build on greenfield sites.

In response to concerns raised in respect of the quality of some of the homes delivered through permitted development rights we now require adequate natural light to be provided in habitable rooms. The independent research informing our review has been published and is available at the following (attached) link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/quality-standard-of-homes-delivered-through-change-of-use-permitted-development-rights

31 Jul 2020, 2:44 p.m. Housing: Construction Baroness Thornhill

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the compatibility of the expansion in permitted development rights with the integrity of the locally led planning system.

Answer (Lord Greenhalgh)

Permitted development rights for change of use to residential are making an important contribution to housing delivery, largely providing windfall housing that may otherwise not have been delivered through the planning system. The rights make effective use of existing buildings and help boost housing density, as part of our broader housing ambitions, without the need to build on greenfield sites.

In response to concerns raised in respect of the quality of some of the homes delivered through permitted development rights we now require adequate natural light to be provided in habitable rooms. The independent research informing our review has been published and is available at the following (attached) link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/quality-standard-of-homes-delivered-through-change-of-use-permitted-development-rights

31 Jul 2020, 2:44 p.m. Change of Use Baroness Thornhill

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the quality of homes resulting from permitted development rights to convert offices to residential use.

Answer (Lord Greenhalgh)

Permitted development rights for change of use to residential are making an important contribution to housing delivery, largely providing windfall housing that may otherwise not have been delivered through the planning system. The rights make effective use of existing buildings and help boost housing density, as part of our broader housing ambitions, without the need to build on greenfield sites.

In response to concerns raised in respect of the quality of some of the homes delivered through permitted development rights we now require adequate natural light to be provided in habitable rooms. The independent research informing our review has been published and is available at the following (attached) link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/quality-standard-of-homes-delivered-through-change-of-use-permitted-development-rights

31 Jul 2020, 2:44 p.m. Change of Use Baroness Thornhill

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government when their review of permitted development rights for the conversion of buildings to residential use in respect of the quality standard of homes delivered will be published.

Answer (Lord Greenhalgh)

Permitted development rights for change of use to residential are making an important contribution to housing delivery, largely providing windfall housing that may otherwise not have been delivered through the planning system. The rights make effective use of existing buildings and help boost housing density, as part of our broader housing ambitions, without the need to build on greenfield sites.

In response to concerns raised in respect of the quality of some of the homes delivered through permitted development rights we now require adequate natural light to be provided in habitable rooms. The independent research informing our review has been published and is available at the following (attached) link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/quality-standard-of-homes-delivered-through-change-of-use-permitted-development-rights

31 Jul 2020, 2:44 p.m. Change of Use Baroness Thornhill

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on affordable housing provision of permitted development rules on the conversion of buildings into homes; and what plans they have to review these rules in response to any emerging evidence indicating a detrimental impact on affordable housing.

Answer (Lord Greenhalgh)

Permitted development rights for change of use to residential are making an important contribution to housing delivery, largely providing windfall housing that may otherwise not have been delivered through the planning system. The rights make effective use of existing buildings and help boost housing density, as part of our broader housing ambitions, without the need to build on greenfield sites.

In response to concerns raised in respect of the quality of some of the homes delivered through permitted development rights we now require adequate natural light to be provided in habitable rooms. The independent research informing our review has been published and is available at the following (attached) link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/quality-standard-of-homes-delivered-through-change-of-use-permitted-development-rights

20 Dec 2018, 12:48 p.m. Housing Estates: Unfair Practices Baroness Thornhill

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government why their consultation Tackling Unfair Practices In The Leasehold Market, published on 25 July 2017, did not include issues of unfair practice related to long-term flat leaseholders and freehold house owners who share maintenance expenditure for communal grounds, gardens and assets.

Answer (Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth)

As part of the response to the consultation Tackling unfair practices in the leasehold market the Government committed to legislate to ensure that freeholders who pay charges for the maintenance of communal areas and facilities on a private or mixed tenure estate can access equivalent rights as leaseholders to challenge their reasonableness.

We set out our proposed approach to implementing these measures in part 4 of the recent consultation, Implementing reforms to the leasehold system in England, which was published on 15 October this year.

We intend to create a new statutory regime for freeholders based on the leaseholder rights contained in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. This will ensure maintenance charges must be reasonably incurred and services provided are of an acceptable standard

There are no plans to separately recognise freeholders who pay charges for the maintenance of communal areas and facilities on a private or mixed tenure estate and those who do not. We will provide freeholders with the ability to challenge the reasonableness of the charges they are required to pay towards the maintenance of communal areas and facilities at the First-tier Tribunal. We are also considering whether freeholders should have a right to change the provider of maintenance services by applying to the tribunal for the appointment of a new manager.

The consultation has now closed, and my officials are now analysing the responses. The Government intends to bring forward legislation to implement the changes as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

The Government has asked the Law Commission to review the existing Right to Manage legislation with a view to making the procedure simpler, quicker and more flexible. The Law Commission has been told about difficulties with managing shared property such as access roads and gardens used by other properties on the estate. They will therefore consider the qualifying criteria for Right to Manage applications to be extended to include freehold estates. The Law Commission will publish its consultation in January 2017

On 12 October, the Government announced the formation of the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group, chaired by Lord Best. Its principal aim will be to advise the Government on a new regulatory approach to letting, managing and estate agents

The Minister for Housing and Homelessness has asked the working group to look into whether fees and charges which affect both leaseholders and freeholders are justified, or whether they should be capped or banned.

20 Dec 2018, 12:48 p.m. Housing Estates: Unfair Practices Baroness Thornhill

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to recognise freehold house owners who share maintenance expenditure for communal grounds, gardens and assets on estates comprising a mixture of leasehold flats and freehold houses as distinct from normal freeholders and leaseholders; and what steps they will take to give such freehold home owners access to (1) inexpensive alternative dispute resolution processes, and (2) full consumer protection rights.

Answer (Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth)

As part of the response to the consultation Tackling unfair practices in the leasehold market the Government committed to legislate to ensure that freeholders who pay charges for the maintenance of communal areas and facilities on a private or mixed tenure estate can access equivalent rights as leaseholders to challenge their reasonableness.

We set out our proposed approach to implementing these measures in part 4 of the recent consultation, Implementing reforms to the leasehold system in England, which was published on 15 October this year.

We intend to create a new statutory regime for freeholders based on the leaseholder rights contained in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. This will ensure maintenance charges must be reasonably incurred and services provided are of an acceptable standard

There are no plans to separately recognise freeholders who pay charges for the maintenance of communal areas and facilities on a private or mixed tenure estate and those who do not. We will provide freeholders with the ability to challenge the reasonableness of the charges they are required to pay towards the maintenance of communal areas and facilities at the First-tier Tribunal. We are also considering whether freeholders should have a right to change the provider of maintenance services by applying to the tribunal for the appointment of a new manager.

The consultation has now closed, and my officials are now analysing the responses. The Government intends to bring forward legislation to implement the changes as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

The Government has asked the Law Commission to review the existing Right to Manage legislation with a view to making the procedure simpler, quicker and more flexible. The Law Commission has been told about difficulties with managing shared property such as access roads and gardens used by other properties on the estate. They will therefore consider the qualifying criteria for Right to Manage applications to be extended to include freehold estates. The Law Commission will publish its consultation in January 2017

On 12 October, the Government announced the formation of the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group, chaired by Lord Best. Its principal aim will be to advise the Government on a new regulatory approach to letting, managing and estate agents

The Minister for Housing and Homelessness has asked the working group to look into whether fees and charges which affect both leaseholders and freeholders are justified, or whether they should be capped or banned.

20 Dec 2018, 12:48 p.m. Housing Estates: Unfair Practices Baroness Thornhill

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to provide freehold house owners legal rights equivalent to those of leaseholders, including legal rights to (1) manage blocks of houses, and (2) make an application to appoint a manager to the first-tier tribunal of the property chamber, where current and future property developments comprise a mixture of leasehold flats and freehold houses within communal grounds.

Answer (Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth)

As part of the response to the consultation Tackling unfair practices in the leasehold market the Government committed to legislate to ensure that freeholders who pay charges for the maintenance of communal areas and facilities on a private or mixed tenure estate can access equivalent rights as leaseholders to challenge their reasonableness.

We set out our proposed approach to implementing these measures in part 4 of the recent consultation, Implementing reforms to the leasehold system in England, which was published on 15 October this year.

We intend to create a new statutory regime for freeholders based on the leaseholder rights contained in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. This will ensure maintenance charges must be reasonably incurred and services provided are of an acceptable standard

There are no plans to separately recognise freeholders who pay charges for the maintenance of communal areas and facilities on a private or mixed tenure estate and those who do not. We will provide freeholders with the ability to challenge the reasonableness of the charges they are required to pay towards the maintenance of communal areas and facilities at the First-tier Tribunal. We are also considering whether freeholders should have a right to change the provider of maintenance services by applying to the tribunal for the appointment of a new manager.

The consultation has now closed, and my officials are now analysing the responses. The Government intends to bring forward legislation to implement the changes as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

The Government has asked the Law Commission to review the existing Right to Manage legislation with a view to making the procedure simpler, quicker and more flexible. The Law Commission has been told about difficulties with managing shared property such as access roads and gardens used by other properties on the estate. They will therefore consider the qualifying criteria for Right to Manage applications to be extended to include freehold estates. The Law Commission will publish its consultation in January 2017

On 12 October, the Government announced the formation of the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group, chaired by Lord Best. Its principal aim will be to advise the Government on a new regulatory approach to letting, managing and estate agents

The Minister for Housing and Homelessness has asked the working group to look into whether fees and charges which affect both leaseholders and freeholders are justified, or whether they should be capped or banned.

20 Dec 2018, 12:48 p.m. Housing Estates: Unfair Practices Baroness Thornhill

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to legislate for the independent regulation of estate managing agents to ensure that they are subject to consumer and financial services markets protection rights, laws and regulations; and what assessment they have made of the efficacy of current legislation regarding the self-regulation of managing agents.

Answer (Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth)

As part of the response to the consultation Tackling unfair practices in the leasehold market the Government committed to legislate to ensure that freeholders who pay charges for the maintenance of communal areas and facilities on a private or mixed tenure estate can access equivalent rights as leaseholders to challenge their reasonableness.

We set out our proposed approach to implementing these measures in part 4 of the recent consultation, Implementing reforms to the leasehold system in England, which was published on 15 October this year.

We intend to create a new statutory regime for freeholders based on the leaseholder rights contained in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. This will ensure maintenance charges must be reasonably incurred and services provided are of an acceptable standard

There are no plans to separately recognise freeholders who pay charges for the maintenance of communal areas and facilities on a private or mixed tenure estate and those who do not. We will provide freeholders with the ability to challenge the reasonableness of the charges they are required to pay towards the maintenance of communal areas and facilities at the First-tier Tribunal. We are also considering whether freeholders should have a right to change the provider of maintenance services by applying to the tribunal for the appointment of a new manager.

The consultation has now closed, and my officials are now analysing the responses. The Government intends to bring forward legislation to implement the changes as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

The Government has asked the Law Commission to review the existing Right to Manage legislation with a view to making the procedure simpler, quicker and more flexible. The Law Commission has been told about difficulties with managing shared property such as access roads and gardens used by other properties on the estate. They will therefore consider the qualifying criteria for Right to Manage applications to be extended to include freehold estates. The Law Commission will publish its consultation in January 2017

On 12 October, the Government announced the formation of the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group, chaired by Lord Best. Its principal aim will be to advise the Government on a new regulatory approach to letting, managing and estate agents

The Minister for Housing and Homelessness has asked the working group to look into whether fees and charges which affect both leaseholders and freeholders are justified, or whether they should be capped or banned.

20 Dec 2018, 12:48 p.m. Housing Estates: Unfair Practices Baroness Thornhill

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to prohibit landowners appointing related companies as estate managing agents; and what assessment they have made of the extent to which appointing such managing agents allows estates to be run without regard to providing value for money services to leaseholders and freehold house owners who share communal grounds maintenance and service expenditure.

Answer (Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth)

As part of the response to the consultation Tackling unfair practices in the leasehold market the Government committed to legislate to ensure that freeholders who pay charges for the maintenance of communal areas and facilities on a private or mixed tenure estate can access equivalent rights as leaseholders to challenge their reasonableness.

We set out our proposed approach to implementing these measures in part 4 of the recent consultation, Implementing reforms to the leasehold system in England, which was published on 15 October this year.

We intend to create a new statutory regime for freeholders based on the leaseholder rights contained in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. This will ensure maintenance charges must be reasonably incurred and services provided are of an acceptable standard

There are no plans to separately recognise freeholders who pay charges for the maintenance of communal areas and facilities on a private or mixed tenure estate and those who do not. We will provide freeholders with the ability to challenge the reasonableness of the charges they are required to pay towards the maintenance of communal areas and facilities at the First-tier Tribunal. We are also considering whether freeholders should have a right to change the provider of maintenance services by applying to the tribunal for the appointment of a new manager.

The consultation has now closed, and my officials are now analysing the responses. The Government intends to bring forward legislation to implement the changes as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

The Government has asked the Law Commission to review the existing Right to Manage legislation with a view to making the procedure simpler, quicker and more flexible. The Law Commission has been told about difficulties with managing shared property such as access roads and gardens used by other properties on the estate. They will therefore consider the qualifying criteria for Right to Manage applications to be extended to include freehold estates. The Law Commission will publish its consultation in January 2017

On 12 October, the Government announced the formation of the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group, chaired by Lord Best. Its principal aim will be to advise the Government on a new regulatory approach to letting, managing and estate agents

The Minister for Housing and Homelessness has asked the working group to look into whether fees and charges which affect both leaseholders and freeholders are justified, or whether they should be capped or banned.

20 Dec 2018, 12:48 p.m. Housing Estates: Unfair Practices Baroness Thornhill

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to abolish the current transfer rent charge deed arrangements and replace them with a modern commercial contract to provide for an equitable balance of obligations between communal grounds landowner, independent managing agent and freehold house owners consistent with current consumer protection legislation.

Answer (Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth)

As part of the response to the consultation Tackling unfair practices in the leasehold market the Government committed to legislate to ensure that freeholders who pay charges for the maintenance of communal areas and facilities on a private or mixed tenure estate can access equivalent rights as leaseholders to challenge their reasonableness.

We set out our proposed approach to implementing these measures in part 4 of the recent consultation, Implementing reforms to the leasehold system in England, which was published on 15 October this year.

We intend to create a new statutory regime for freeholders based on the leaseholder rights contained in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. This will ensure maintenance charges must be reasonably incurred and services provided are of an acceptable standard

There are no plans to separately recognise freeholders who pay charges for the maintenance of communal areas and facilities on a private or mixed tenure estate and those who do not. We will provide freeholders with the ability to challenge the reasonableness of the charges they are required to pay towards the maintenance of communal areas and facilities at the First-tier Tribunal. We are also considering whether freeholders should have a right to change the provider of maintenance services by applying to the tribunal for the appointment of a new manager.

The consultation has now closed, and my officials are now analysing the responses. The Government intends to bring forward legislation to implement the changes as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

The Government has asked the Law Commission to review the existing Right to Manage legislation with a view to making the procedure simpler, quicker and more flexible. The Law Commission has been told about difficulties with managing shared property such as access roads and gardens used by other properties on the estate. They will therefore consider the qualifying criteria for Right to Manage applications to be extended to include freehold estates. The Law Commission will publish its consultation in January 2017

On 12 October, the Government announced the formation of the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group, chaired by Lord Best. Its principal aim will be to advise the Government on a new regulatory approach to letting, managing and estate agents

The Minister for Housing and Homelessness has asked the working group to look into whether fees and charges which affect both leaseholders and freeholders are justified, or whether they should be capped or banned.