The government is to open a consultation on whether residential properties should require planning consent to be used as short lets via Airbnb and other platforms. It is also likely to introduce a registration scheme for short lets.
The news has come in a package of concessions made by the Housing Secretary Michael Gove to Conservative backbench MPs who were angry over planning powers to build new homes.
Those concessions major on watered-down housing targets which had previously said 300,000 new homes.a year should be built. A Commons vote on the issue had to be dropped two weeks ago in the light of Tory backbench opposition; in the intervening days Gove has been holding meetings with dissenting Tories and has now written to them with concessions.
This note pledged that the 300,000 would be “advisory” rather than a target, allowing local councils to reject applications for new homes if they are considered damaging to the local community. An example of this would be having to build at a density which the council could claim would significantly alter the local character of an area.
Tory rebels had previously threatened to table amendments to the Levelling Up Bill to scrap house building targets and introduce stricter controls over the number and use of holiday homes. The package of compromises is seen as an attempt to head that off.
In addition to the short lets initiative, other concessions from the government include a higher infrastructure levy on Greenfield development, taking action to prevent land banking, and ending the so-called ‘duty to co-operate’ for rural areas to help house overspill from nearby urban centres.
Gove says the government's proposed changes would help it meet its target of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid 2020s. But he admits that the pledge would be "difficult" to deliver in the next year because of rising inflation.
Labour's shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy said the government's plans for housing targets were "unconscionable in the middle of a housing crisis". She added that the government was "weak" with the prime minister and Cabinet "in office but not in power".