The Government white paper ‘Fixing our broken housing market’ sets out a broad range of reforms that the Department for Communities and Local Government plans to introduce to help reform the housing market and boost the supply of new homes in England (7 Feb 2017).

What does 250,000 houses look like?  Newcastle and Sunderland combined!

BBC map based on ONS Census data 2011.
BBC map. There are 250,000 homes across Newcastle and Sunderland.

Government ministers are saying England needs 250,000 new homes every year. The new housing strategy for England intends to give councils powers to put pressure on developers to start building on land they own but haven’t yet developed (so called ‘land banks’ accused of preventing a supply increase that would cause prices to fall).  The time allowed between planning permission and the start of building is to be reduced from three to two years.  Higher densities and high-rise building are encouraged where supply is short.

Councils will have to produce an up-to-date plan for housing supply/demand. A number of councils have already submitted plans – including Newcastle (see map: The Telegraph 7 Feb 2017).  According to The Independent the measures effectively “scrap the Coalition 2010 housebuilding planning framework” and it means a return to a system used by the Labour government before 2010 (The Independent 7 Feb 2017).

There is also a promise to make renting more ‘family-friendly’ via longer tenancies for some tenants in new-build properties. The government is also seeking to get rid of rogue landlords and letting agents’ fees (possibly bringing England into line with Scotland).  A new consultation on planning and affordable housing for Build to Rent has been launched (ends May 1st 2017).

Protection is promised for the green belt, which is only to be built on ‘in exceptional circumstances’.

However, the plans have met with criticism:

“There needs to be an honest admission that there’s no chance of building the target 250,000 homes a year through the private market alone.”  The Guardian 7 Feb 2017

“A policy encouraging the use of compulsory purchase orders to seize sites when they are not being built on fast enough is likely to worry developers, and doesn’t take into account how long these sites can take to prepare before they’re ready for building.”   The Telegraph 7 Feb 2017

“Former Conservative housing minister Grant Shapps told the BBC’s Daily Politics the problem would not be solved simply ‘by slotting in a few more homes in converted former industrial sites'”.  BBC 7 Feb 2017

“‘Talk of longer-term tenancies is welcome but risks being disingenuous unless these are rolled out across the board, not just for a handful of people living in new build-to-rent properties,’ said Graeme Brown, interim chief executive of Shelter.” The Telegraph 7 Feb 2017


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