Yesterday saw the annual Opening of Parliament by the Queen, during which the monarch revealed the government’s plans for the next 12 months. The RICS have produced a response to the government’s Infrastructure Bill. Read our blog to see the response.

What Did The Infrastructure Bill Say?

The Infrastructure Bill allows for controversial shale gas mining to take place in areas with lots of natural gas. The bill also granted measures for developers to run pipelines under people’s homes, without gaining their permission. It also introduced the new Homes and Communities Agency, which will have the power to turn government land over to development.

What was the RICS Response?

The RICS welcomed the announcement made within the bill to change the Highway Agency into a government-owned company via long-term funding. It’s believed this will “deliver a more strategic and streamlined roads programme.”

The RICS would like to see much more “integrated transport planning” when it comes to the UK’s infrastructure, especially along the HS2 route.

With regards to the Homes and Communities Agency being given powers to develop land without restrictions, the RICS see this as “a positive step in getting more construction projects underway.”

The RICS recommends, however, that any land disposed of by public bodies be assumed to be suitable for residential purposes. The RICS believes “given the UK’s housing crisis, it is vital that viable public land … should be first offered to housing developers.”

The RICS welcomed government efforts to ensure new housing should be built to zero carbon standards, but questioned the success of the government’s carbon reduction programme the “Green Deal”, calling for a review of the scheme to improve carbon emissions in already existing housing stock.

With regards to the controversial shale gas mining – or “fracking” – measures that the government introduced, the RICS welcomed the governments desire to address energy and economic growth with the new bill.

The RICS did however express the need for regulatory measures “to be delivered within a transparent, notification and compensation framework that also considers community impacts alongside the landowners.”

The RICS recommends initially that fracking should take place at “a strategic set of sites to accurately assess the potential of shale gas as a contributor to the UK’s energy security and economic growth.”

The RICS urged the government to achieve “a clarified legal position” and provide “safeguards to allow landowners and occupiers to still be able to bring claims in cases where actual surface loss is suffered.”

The RICS also commented on the announcement that the legislation around the creation of the Garden City of Ebbsfleet has been brought through. The speech did not mention garden cities in detail and “just re-iterated the list of existing measures that could be used … to create housing.”

The RICS believes that “the promotion of garden cities as a means to address the lack of housing is a step in the right direction.” Not only do they solve the issue of housing, but they also provide “development with a sense of place.”

The RICS was critical of the government’s lack of action on such schemes and emphasized that “to ensure the success of sites, a stringent set of criteria be introduced to assess bids.”

The Government’s plans for the next 12 months will obviously be a talking point for those in the housing industry for a good while to come. We are looking forward to seeing what new measures lie on the horizon, to help provide Britain with homes and properties suitable for business and leisure, over the coming months.