Government unveils wide-ranging plans to provide more homes

Published: 8 March 2017

Category: Legal News

The government has announced a series of wide-ranging measures to reform the housing market and provide more homes for people to buy or rent.

The measures are designed to help local authorities, developers and small builders to increase the housing stock by reducing obstacles that delay or even prevent developments going ahead.

It’s hoped they will also improve affordability and protections for both renters and home purchasers.

The reforms were set out in the Housing White Paper. These are some of the main areas covered:

Getting the right homes built in the right places

The government will consult with local authorities and others on the principle of a new, standardised way of calculating housing demand to reflect current and future housing pressures. Every local area will need to produce a realistic plan and review it at least every five years.

This will help make sure enough land is released for new homes to be built in the parts of the country where people want to live and work and ensure developments take heed of local people’s wishes, while continuing with maximum protections for the green belt.

Speeding up house building

Local authorities will be given the power to speed up house building and to make sure developers build homes on time. It will be easier for councils to issue completion notices, shortening the timescales to require developers to start building within two years, not three, when planning permission is granted.

Developers will need to provide greater transparency on their pace of delivery of new housing so councils can consider this when planning their local need. This will help address the serious and growing gap between the number of planning permissions granted and the number of new homes completed.

Diversifying the market

There will be action to help small independent builders enter the market through the £3 billion Home Building Fund. Currently around 60% of new homes are built by just 10 companies.

The fund will help to build more than 25,000 new homes this parliament and up to 225,000 in the longer term by providing loans for SME builders, custom builders, offsite construction and essential infrastructure, creating thousands of new jobs in the process.

Homeowners

More than 360,000 people have been able to buy a property through government-backed homeownership schemes since 2010; helping people save for a deposit, buy with a smaller deposit, buy at 20% below the market price, buy the home they are renting from a social landlord, buy a share of a home or save a deposit while paying a below market rent.

In April, the government will introduce the Lifetime ISA. This will support younger adults to save flexibly for the long term, giving them a 25% bonus on up to £4,000 of savings a year. Savings and the bonus can be put towards the purchase of a first home, or withdrawn once they reach the age of 60.

Green belt

Ministers have reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the green belt – that only in exceptional circumstances may councils alter green belt boundaries after consulting local people and submitting the revised Local Plan for examination, and set out for the first time all the actions local authorities must take before considering the green belt.

The plan for ‘Urban Regeneration’ includes: strengthening national planning policy to create a ‘de facto’ presumption in favour of housing on suitable brownfield land and to drive up density levels in high demand areas while ensuring that developments are well-designed and respect the character of the local area.

Also taking action to radically increase brownfield development and to bring life back to abandoned sites. That means high quality housing for families in town centres, breathing new life back into our high streets, turning abandoned shopping centres into new communities and increasing density of housing around transport hubs to build homes that people want to live in.

It’s hoped the wide range of government programmes will help over 200,000 people become homeowners by the end of the Parliament.

The White Paper also contains measures to tackle the high cost of renting a home, and ensure more long-term tenancies are available in private rented schemes to provide more stability to families renting. The government will act to promote fairness and transparency for the growing number of leaseholders.¬

Please contact Pauline Fox in our Conveyancing Team if you would like more information about the legal aspects of buying or selling a home.