James Parker

You have to admire ‘Dancing Queen’ Theresa May’s strength. While navigating a seemingly impossible course between shark-infested waters of extreme Brexiteers and the EU, she also managed to announce something universally welcomed in her conference speech.

Finally, they have scrapped the cap on council borrowing, after years of urging from all quarters, and recent dabbling by the Chancellor. Although details won’t be clear until his Budget, councils will be free to borrow against housing revenue account assets to build what they need.

May admitted candidly – in front of her party and the nation – that the policy of capping this borrowing “doesn’t make sense” and that it had “stopped councils playing their part in solving the housing crisis.” The new (and current, for the time being) Housing Secretary James Brokenshire will take credit for what is a heartening move that can also only illustrate the perhaps otherwise insurmountable challenge of building 300,000 homes per year.

This was one of the few points of light in what was otherwise a less inspiring than the PM might have hoped speech, harking back to the First World War, the dangers of Corbyn and a desperate call for the party to pull together around the highly unpopular Chequers deal. Rebadging it “our free trade deal” was not going to put any of her hardline Brexiteer colleagues back in their box.


Brian Berry of the FMB on why the skills time-bomb is ticking ever louder



Tracking how house price rises have outstripped wage increases since 2015

Plans for Maidenhead regeneration are given the green light

While Brexit is the only real topic of conversation given its far-reaching nature (not least for its likely impact on construction staff to deliver ‘the homes we so desperately need’), the Government is at least taking some decisive action on sensible ways to unlock housebuilding. The problem with removing the council borrowing cap is that it is so long overdue.


How the developer is transforming an east London estate – working with Orbit Group to provide a better outlook for residents, in a low-rise future

There were hopes that Philip Hammond was going to announce it in his November 2017 budget, however it was fudged, with the Chancellor merely lifting the cap to £1bn in some areas. That’s many months of potential development lost – fairly hard to swallow given the immensity of the housebuilding challenge, and hard to square with the Government’s vow to let local decision-making hold sway on future development.

Erith Park, Wates Residential go to page 12


Let’s hope they act quicker next time on further measures that will be essential to get close to cracking the housing crisis.

James Parker

Reportedly, May was booed at a fringe event at the conference when she was singing the praises of the Chequers proposal. Like her controversial plan that splits goods and services in an attempt to meet the array of challenges of appeasing both sides, a massive split is now visible in her party. Surely such treatment of a leader can have been a rare sight at an occasion where you’re supposed to express loyalty above everything else. It suggests a level of dissent such that if her deal falls, surely she will too.

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