Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has announced new reforms designed to help housebuilders and developers build more properties.
The Government plans to change planning rules to allow developers to build more Starter Homes for sale, rather than for affordable rent. The policy is in line with the ‘Starter Homes Initiative’, designed to help deliver 200,000 starter homes by 2020.
‘Starter Homes’ are designed to be sold at a 20% discount and be built for first time buyers under the age of 40.
Announcing the move at the recent Conservative Party Conference David Cameron called the move “a dramatic shift in housing policy.”
Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation said: “We welcome the Government’s plans to deliver on its pledge to improve home ownership opportunities for young people. Over the past 25 years, as building new homes has become ever more costly and complex, output has fallen and the housing ladder has slipped further out of reach for many.
“Greater flexibility in the way affordable housing is provided should not only speed up the process of securing an implementable planning permission but also make more sites viable for new housing.”
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “To create a ‘Generation Buy’, we need to create a ‘Generation Build’. This means having a more dynamic house building industry in which smaller firms and new entrants can prosper and grow, so that we can deliver small scale housing developments in every village, every town, and every city.”
The House Builders Association has welcomed the prime minister’s call for a reform in the planning process. Rico Wojtulewicz, HBA’s policy advisor, said: “We appreciate the emphasis on simplifying planning rules. However, there is much work that still needs to be done to level the playing field between large volume and SME house builders. For instance, restoring small sites exemption from affordable homes contribution will help ensure that SME house builders can operate in a more collaborative system.”
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, commented: “Politicians talk about Generation Rent as if it is something to be ashamed of, when this should not be the case. While we are not against owner occupation, and see Starter Homes as a welcome initiative, we are aware that such a policy is stoking demand for home ownership, rather than focusing on meeting supply. Build to rent has enormous potential to deliver additional homes to the UK, and government must not overlook this in blind pursuit of making us a nation of homeowners.”
Spencer McCarthy, Chairman of retirement housebuilder, Churchill Retirement Living said: “Measures to help young people get on the ladder and build more homes for them are vitally important. However, with so much focus on those at the start of the housing ladder, government must ensure an appropriate range of housing is also available to older people, and they are not left out of the housing mix.
“We look forward to seeing further detail – but hope common sense prevails when local authorities are making planning decisions, and they consider the needs of people of all ages, not just those at the start of the housing ladder. The PM’s national crusade to get homes built must not exclude the elderly.”