The government’s plans to tackle the housing crisis
The government has unveiled plans to tackle the country’s current housing crisis. Its aim is to introduce policies which address high property prices and high levels of rent, caused by rising population and a lack of supply of new homes.
The proposals are broken down into the following chapters:
Planning for the right homes in the right places
The government’s aim is to simplify the planning process making it easier for local authorities to produce plans and easier for developers to follow them. It also intends to make more land available in the right places by releasing more small and medium sites and maximising the contribution from brownfield sites and surplus public land. It has, however, affirmed its position NOT to build on greenbelt.
The government also wants to give more control to local communities over the location and appearance of developments. While it is clear that most people accept the need to build more homes, it is far from certain that a stronger local voice in the planning process will result in a reduction in local opposition to building schemes.
Building homes faster
The government would like to increase the productivity and capacity of the Local Planning Authorities (‘LPAs’) and intends to invest in the planning system. There is also a proposal to introduce a fee for planning appeals, which should reduce the number of unnecessary appeals.
It also plans to support developers by reducing the delays caused by planning conditions, helping developers to build more quickly. It is also intending to hold developers and local authorities to account for the lack of delivery or the delay of new homes, but there is no clarity on what the penalties are likely to be.
Diversifying the market
A more radical policy is to move away from relying on traditional building methods and to encourage smaller builders to use modern methods of construction to increase the supply of new homes. The building industry will, however, be cautious as to the possible impact on lenders’ ability to provide a mortgage if a home is not built using traditional construction methods.
Helping people now
The government will continue to support new buyers through the existing Starter Home scheme, Help to Buy ISAs and Help to Buy Equity Loans, and is hoping that more small and medium builders will take advantage of the £3billion Home Building Fund, which was launched in October 2016.
Daniel Fairs is a solicitor in the property department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.
This article was first published in Business East, EADT, 1st March 2017