Communities Secretary Sajid Javid launched the Government’s Housing White Paper on February 7th calling it a ‘radical vision for housing in this country’. PHPD takes a look at some of the reaction from across the sector.
Clive Fenton, CEO of McCarthy & Stone:
“The country’s first housing strategy for six years commendably offers the opportunity to finally address years of undersupply and we are particularly pleased to see positive references to increasing provision of housing that meets the needs and aspirations of older people, including building more specialist retirement housing. In light of the UK’s serious housing crisis, including the need for housing for our significantly ageing population, we welcome the government’s proposals for long-term sustainable solutions.
“The White Paper notes that the Government will explore ways to stimulate the market to deliver new homes for older people and is introducing a new statutory duty through the Neighbourhood Planning Bill on the Secretary of State to produce, for the first time, guidance for local planning authorities on how their local development documents should meet the housing needs of older and disabled people. Guidance produced under this duty will place clearer expectations about planning to meet the needs of older people, including supporting the development of such homes near local services. In addition, the White Paper notes the Government’s commitment to explore ways to help older people to move at the right time, including possible future incentives.
“A number of other measures in the White Paper are also welcomed, including encouraging high-density brownfield development in urban locations and improving the assessment of local housing need.”
The Housing White Paper, Fixing our Broken Housing Market is available in full here.
Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the Home Builders Federation:
“The White Paper recognises that the private sector house building industry is key to addressing the chronic housing shortage we face and outlines steps to assist it deliver more homes. The industry is a major part of the solution and is committed to continued growth.
“Huge progress has been made in recent years in terms of increasing housing supply. If we are to build more homes and meet the country’s acute needs, all parties involved in housing supply must up their game.
“The industry is determined to meet the challenges laid down by Government and help deliver more homes more quickly. We will look to work with Government on the detail of the measures announced today to ensure they will lead to many more new homes being built in the coming years.
“Plans to speed up the planning process, bring forward more developable land and make Local Authorities abide by their responsibilities are key. If we are to build more homes, we need more land coming through the system more quickly. Measures that will allow SME builders to build more homes will increase the capacity of the industry and result in increases in overall supply.”
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB):
“I’m pleased that the White Paper recognises the potential for SMEs to deliver far more homes than they do currently. In addition, it accurately identifies the key barriers to them doing so as land, planning and finance. Of these, finding small sites and then getting planning permission is the greatest single barrier. In too many places, the approach to planning for new homes has come to be focused almost entirely on large sites and large scale delivery. This approach has slowed down the delivery of homes, and has helped shape an uncompetitive house building industry and an unresponsive supply of housing – this has to end.
“There is much that is good and sensible in the White Paper so let’s use it as a launch pad for a real step change in delivery. Local authorities are set to be given more resources and more powers. However, the targets arising from the new housing delivery tests, against which councils will be measured, will not be met with a continued over-reliance on large developers and large sites. If a local authority fails to meet its targets it could lose control over its own planning policy and the threat of this should be provide the impetus for councils to push more small sites through the system. It is in everyone’s interest to see SMEs play a far greater role in house building and small sites are key to this.”
Edo Mapelli Mozzi, CEO of Banda Property:
“This White Paper is far from the radical overhaul of housing policy that has been promised. The ‘use it or lose it’ rules designed to prevent developer land banking are too black and white and completely fail to consider other key factors preventing the building out of sites, such as finance.
“Banks in most cases will not fund the development of a scheme until 50% pre-sales have been secured. In an active market this isn’t a problem, but in a more challenging market such as the one we currently face, this is a major barrier to development. The idea that developers are just sitting on land waiting for prices to go up is ludicrous. If they can’t sell half the scheme in advance, they simply can’t build it. Where is the proposed legislation tackling this fundamental problem?
“However, I welcome a relaxation of regulation around space standards and development height that will give developers the freedom to meet consumer demand. For too long the overbearing bureaucracy of the planning system has forced developers to build cookie cutter schemes that fail to meet the needs of the local demographic.”
Spencer McCarthy, Chairman & CEO of Churchill Retirement Living:
“The White Paper’s commitment to helping older homeowners move at the right time and in the right way is a welcome measure, but there is clearly a lot of work still to be done on the detail.
“The White Paper’s proposals to enable quicker development of brownfield sites in town centres are a welcome step forward, as are increased resources for planning departments. We’ll have to wait and see how effective these reforms are in practice, but at least they are a step towards tackling the regulatory burden that severely slows down developers like us from providing much-needed new homes in town centre locations.
“It is clear that the Government is highlighting to Councils that the delivery of older peoples housing is a priority and needs to be at the top of their agenda.”
Kate Henderson, Chief Executive Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA):
“The Government’s pledge to update the New Towns legislation in today’s Housing White Paper marks a huge step forward for the TCPA’s garden cities and new towns campaign. The legislation has a proven track record on delivery and with the right reform could be a highly effective way of enabling local authorities to deliver well designed homes and great local services in thriving communities.
“Changes to the New Towns Act will need to be accompanied by a new approach to government investment in new development, channelling new and existing funds to support up-front infrastructure and affordable homes. This approach could unlock a new generation of highly sustainable places that meet housing, employment and quality of life needs while promoting innovation.”
Amy Nettleton, Assistant Development Director – sales and marketing at Aster Group and chair of the National Housing Group:
“The white paper includes some very encouraging proposals and we’re pleased to see the government widen out the starter homes policy to include shared ownership, which should encourage more developers to build more homes for this crucial tenure.
“Shared ownership was explicitly referenced by the secretary of state as one solution to helping people realise their dream of home ownership. This kind of positive rhetoric and backing is vital to ensure it is seen as a truly mainstream tenure and route on to the housing ladder.
“The commitment to support SME housebuilders is also welcome news. Partnership working, including between larger housebuilders and housing associations, and support of smaller developers are relatively under-utilised ways of boosting volumes – the most important thing given the crisis is in supply rather than on the demand side.”
Image: Sajid Javid (center) on a recent visit to a McCathy & Stone development. Photo: McCarthy & Stone