Following swiftly on from the growth focused government reshuffle carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have jointly announced a major push for growth in the housing and development sector as a centre piece of the Coalition’s joint programme for the next two and a half years.
The package of measures which the Department of Communities and Local Government will take forward will include:
- A commitment to deliver up to 70,000 new homes, including affordable housing, which is estimated to generate 140,000 jobs in the construction sector.
- New opportunities for first-time buyers to get onto the housing ladder.
- A £40 billion guarantee for major infrastructure projects and £10 billion for new homes. An Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill will include guaranteeing the debt of Housing Associations and private sector developers.
The detailed measures include:
- Removing unworkable financial obligations on house builders, to unlock 75,000 homes currently in limbo where projects are not commercially viable. Developers who can demonstrate that affordable housing requirements make the project unviable will see them removed.
- Up to 15,000 new affordable homes and 5,000 empty homes returned to use using new capital funding of £300 million and the new infrastructure guarantee.
- An additional 5,000 homes built for rent at market rates in line with proposals outlined in Sir Adrian Montague’s report, published in August 2012, on boosting the private rented sector.
- Thousands of larger commercial and strategic housing applications to be directed to a major infrastructure fast track decision making process. More applications also will go into a fast track appeal process.
- New ‘special measures’ for council planning departments where they have failed to improve the speed and quality of decision making. When councils perform poorly, developers can opt to have their decision taken by the Planning Inspectorate.
- 16,500 first-time buyers to be helped with a £280 million extension of the successful ‘FirstBuy’ scheme, which offers aspiring homeowners a much-needed deposit and a crucial first step on the housing ladder.
- For a time limited period, relaxing planning red regulations to allow home owners and businesses to extend properties without requiring planning permission.
The Prime Minister said: “This is a comprehensive plan to unleash one of the biggest homebuilding programmes this country has seen in a generation. That means more investment around the county; more jobs for our people; and more young families able to realise their dreams and get on the housing ladder.”
The Deputy Prime Minister said: “Today’s major boost to housing and planning will make it easier to build a home, easier to buy a first home and easier to extend a home. A boost that will get Britain building again. Building thousands of affordable homes and generating thousands of new jobs.”
The Department of Communities & Local Government have issued further details on the implementation of these proposals. Available here http://www.communities.gov.uk/statements/newsroom/2211838
Written by Nick Sutcliffe