PM signals return to council housebuilding

Prime Minister Theresa May announced an additional £2bn of affordable housebuilding as part of her “mission” to solve the housing crisis, at a speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

In addition to heralding a “new generation of council houses”, the PM also confirmed £10bn of Government investment in extra Help to Buy loans. She directly addressed housebuilders, saying that they needed to increase delivery: “I want to send the clearest possible message to housebuilders that we the Government will make sure the land is available, we’ll make sure you have the skills you need, and in return, you must do your duty to Britain, and build the homes our country needs.”

On the new social housing funding, which commentators have criticised as only able to deliver 5,000 units per year, May said: “In those parts of the country where the need is greatest,” new homes will be built for social rent at “well below market level, getting Government back into the business of building houses.” “It won’t be quick or easy,” said May, “but as PM I’m going to make it my mission to solve this problem, and I’ll take personal charge of the Government’s response, and ignite home ownership in Britain once again.”

INDUSTRY REACTION Dave Sheridan, CEO of Keepmoat Regeneration, said he welcomed any action on social housing, which is “long-awaited” and “desperately sought.” He said: “This is a welcome

announcement for both the construction industry and the 1.2 million families on local authority waiting lists for a social

tenancy. We have seen significant inroads in the provision of new housing and government funding to support first time buyers over the past few years, but what we have not seen as readily is aid for local authorities to build more homes for social rent.

“It is time to take this seriously, and address the rising number of people that live on the streets, in subpar homes or are waiting on the social housing waiting list, as the country does not have the capacity to house them.”

Housing needs calculation model to boost delivery

Sajid Javid has announced details of a new way of calculating housing need on a local basis claiming that it could see over a quarter of a million houses built per year. In a statement to the House of Commons, the Communities Secretary explained that the policy, originally proposed in the Government’s Housing White Paper, would measure each local authority’s housing need “more objec- tively”. Javid argued that, if adopted nationally, the method would result in England building approximately 260,000 new homes a year.

Under the proposed model assessments would be based on local ONS household

projection data over a 10-year timeframe, and will boost numbers in areas where house prices outstrip average incomes. There will also be a cap set however – target increases will be limited at 40 per cent of the number set in a council’s local plan (or 40 per cent of projected households, should the local authority not have an adopted local plan). Javid said: “This new approach will cut the unnecessarily complex and lengthy debates that can delay housebuilding. It will make sure we have a clear and realistic assessment of how many new homes are needed, and ensure local communities have a voice in deciding where they go.” The planned reforms mean that councils will have to agree how they will work with their neighbouring areas to plan for homes and support infrastructure such as roads and utility services. A new “statement of common ground” envisages better co-operation across council boundaries on planning issues to plan for homes, including in new towns or garden villages. While councils are required to collaborate on infrastructure and housing, evidence suggests that in some parts of the country this is not working effectively. Neighbouring councils will be expected to set out the cross boundary matters within an agreed area, looking at the housing need for the area, distribution of homes and plans to meet any shortfalls. Following changes to the National Planning Policy Framework expected in 2018, councils will have a year to get a statement of common ground in place. Rico Wojtulewicz, policy advisor for the

HBA, welcomed Javid’s announcement: “We are delighted that the Housing White Paper remains part of the Government’s ambition. Local authorities have failed to enable deliverable supply through their plan-making process. This has not only stifled supply, but the capacity of the local supply chain. He added: “Local authorities will need to concentrate on making sure local plans deliver a meaningful increase in supply. This will require shifting focus from larger slow-to-deliver sites towards smaller and infill sites which are delivered more quickly, favoured by local communities, and do not exacerbate existing infrastructure.”


DELAY HOUSEBUILDING Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government


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