During his closing speech at this week’s Conservative Party conference, Prime Minister David Cameron outlined his latest plans to reform housing policy through “a national crusade to get homes built”.
Mr Cameron set out that these proposals would represent a “dramatic shift” in housing policy, with “those old rules which said to developers you can build on this site but only if you build affordable homes for rent” being replaced by new ‘rules’ which say “you can build here and those affordable homes can be available to buy.”
The Prime Minister went on to outline that further changes to the planning system would be required in order to achieve this, together with commensurate efforts to improve bank lending and facilitate the release of public sector land for development.
It would appear, therefore, that the Government looks set to place a greater focus on the delivery of new ‘Starter Homes’ in preference to the more traditional forms of affordable housing provision. Starter Homes are homes available for purchase with a minimum discount equivalent to 20% of market value for first time buyers under the age of 40 years. This scheme has already received support from the national house builders, and announcements made over the Summer by the Government suggested that the Starter Homes initiative could soon be rolled out to smaller-scale developments in rural towns and villages (click here for more information).
However, the Prime Minister’s latest proposals have received criticism from some sections of the media who have raised concerns over how this will help address the c.1.4 million households currently on the social housing waiting list. We therefore eagerly await the details of any proposed reforms to the planning system and will endeavour to provide a further update once these are published.