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Agents prepare for planning overhaul as sector digests Queen's Speech

Agents have pledged to keep a close eye on planning reforms amid a proposed overhaul announced in the Queen’s Speech yesterday.

Prince Charles stood in for the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament yesterday where he laid out 38 bills, including several that may affect estate agents.

Letting Agent Today has extensive coverage of the impact on the rental sector, with reforms proposed on tenant rights including the end of Section 21 evictions and a new ombudsman for private landlords.


There was also plenty to ponder for agents on the sales side, such as proposed laws on fake reviews and a business rates overhaul.

The background briefing document accompanying the state opening confirmed that The Leasehold Reform Act 2022 will come into force on 30 June, banning new leasehold houses.

The most relevant proposed law for agents was a Levelling up and Regeneration Bill, which includes an overhaul of the planning system.

Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns for trade body Propertymark, said: “We are facing a supply crisis and whilst new building must be a sharp focus, an effective planning system must prioritise the delivery of the right types of homes in the right places utilising a careful assessment of housing needs and market demand data.

"To truly level up and maximise a quality supply of housing, we will scrutinise this Bill to ensure known barriers to delivery are removed.”

But there were also calls for more to be done in this area.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and former RICS residential chairman, said: “We would have liked to have seen clearer direction for bringing empty homes back into use. 

“The comments regarding planning are welcome but the test will be in the delivery, whether small and medium-sized builders in particular don’t feel marginalised and have a good chance of obtaining planning consent reasonably quickly. 

"We would also have liked to see more encouragement for energy efficiency in properties for rent and sale, particularly as this is so topical at the moment.”

Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, added: “The problem with announcements around planning reform, whilst it is badly needed, is that injecting more democracy on a local level is likely to clog up the system rather than improve it.

“Encouraging NIMBYism is probably not the best way to get more homes through the planning approval process. 

“In any case, planning is not the obstacle as there are hundreds of thousands of plots with planning consent across the UK right now that are not being built upon.”

Another Bill of relevance to agents was the second Economic Crime Bill, which aims to strengthen powers to tackle illicit finance by boosting transparency on the Companies House register.

Douglas added: “Property is a high-risk sector for money laundering and we have been engaging with Companies House on how the register will affect estate agents.

“Companies House must be adequately resourced to ensure they can verify information that is provided, and the Register is accurate.

"It will be important for us to analyse the new Bill to ensure it enhances the current anti-money laundering regime and does not work in isolation.”


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