Zero starter homes built of 200,000 target

A total of zero Starter Homes have been built as a result of the 2015 Government scheme to build 200,000 new homes for first time buyers in England by 2020, a recent National Audit Office report found. The Conservative Party’s April 2015 General Election Manifesto committed to building 200,000 starter homes, built exclusively for first-time buyers under the age of 40, and to be sold at a 20 per cent discount. According to the NAO’s report, the November 2015 Spending Review provided £2.3bn to support the delivery of the first 60,000 of these homes, with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) spending nearly an extra £174m on acquiring and preparing sites for them between 2015 and 2018.

The NAO said: “The funding originally intended for Starter Homes has instead been spent on acquiring and preparing brownfield sites for housing more gener- ally, some of which is affordable housing.” The report also found that the Starter

Homes legislative provisions are still not in force, including relevant sections of the Housing and Planning Act (2016). The MHCLG expected to introduce the secondary legislation and planning guidance required for Starter Homes in 2019, but it is yet to lay the regulations in Parliament. The NAO said: “Developers can, and do, market discounted proper- ties as ‘starter homes’ as part of their contribution to affordable housing, but such properties do not necessarily conform to all the intended requirements of Starter Homes as defined in the Housing and Planning Act.” The MHCLG “no longer has a budget

dedicated to the delivery of Starter Homes,” the report continued. The 2017 housing White Paper replaced the target of 200,000 Starter Homes with a target to “help 200,000 households into home ownership” through a range of Government-backed schemes, including Starter Homes, shared ownership, Right to Buy and Help to Buy products. The November 2017 Autumn Budget reallo- cated funding earmarked for Starter Homes to the £9bn Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme and the Land Assembly Fund.

North should be a world- leader in MMC, says McVey

Six LAs receive Homes England funding

The north has the potential to become a world-leader in offsite-constructed homes, according to the Housing Minister Esther McVey.

During a visit to Factory 2050, part of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, she met developers, small businesses and academics to announce the Government’s ambition for a new “centre of excellence” for modern methods of construction (MMC).

As part of the speech given at the event, McVey explained that “the benefits are clear,” with modular homes able to be built in a factory over a week and assembled on site in a day.

“Industry has told us some homes built using modern methods can have 80 per cent fewer defects, and heating bills up to 70 per cent lower,” she continued. “Homes built using modern methods can be of higher quality, greener, and built to last.”

She described how she wants to see a “housing green revolution” in the north, with an emphasis on safety, quality and beauty. “We could be the global leaders in housing standards.” McVey added that to build these new homes, in an industry that she estimates will be worth £40bn “once it matures,” the country “will need a brand-new workforce to make these homes offsite.” If this can be achieved, McVey envisioned that the north of England has the potential to be “the construction capital of the country for this new technology,” and as such, “we need to fully embrace this.”

“This could be a new hub,” she concluded, “think Silicon Valley – the ‘construction corridor.’”

Funding totalling £38.2m for six local authorities has been announced by Homes England, intended to speed up the construction of at least 2,072 homes across the country.

The money will be used by the local authorities to invest in infrastructure and enabling works to get 13 sites – from Somerset to Cheshire – ready for the development of new homes. The Government housing agency

encouraged awardees to use both local SMEs and modern methods of construc- tion (MMC) on their sites, in order to reflect the recent Government pushes in these areas.

New sites set to benefit from Local Authority Accelerated Construction (LAAC) funding include land at Locking Parklands, Weston-Super-Mare, where North Somerset Council will receive over £9.8m of LAAC funding for infrastructure to bring forward 425 new homes, at least 30 per cent of which will be affordable. Another of the sites, in Winsford, Cheshire, will benefit from over £4.5m LAAC funding to accelerate the construc- tion of 310 homes, including a 60-home extra care scheme.

Stephen Kinsella, chief land and devel- opment officer at Homes England, commented: “This funding will enable local authorities to prepare their sites for development and to bring forward the construction of homes. New homes will then be built out at pace using modern methods of construction.”

The deals are the latest to be awarded through the Government’s £450m LAAC programme, which was launched to help “unlock public land and increase the speed of delivery on local authority housing schemes.”

Homes England said it is “looking to work with other ambitious local authori- ties where LAAC funding can help unlock sites for development.”


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