The Housing white paper
The white paper, which is aptly entitled “Fixing our broken housing market”, looks at several ways in which the supply of new housing can be increased to meet the growing shortage of residential property. As the government freely admits, at least 250,000 new homes are needed every year to keep pace with demand.
In an effort to broaden housing options, there is a shift away from an almost exclusive focus on home ownership, and more emphasis placed on increasing multi-tenure house building and building property for the rental sector. Family-friendly tenancies which are two/three years long are to be actively encouraged.
Under its proposals, councils will be required to produce a realistic plan for housing demand and review it every five years. Preservation of the Green Belt is confirmed, and councils will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances to alter green belt boundaries.
Councils and developers are expected to consider higher density, especially in areas which have good transport links. The proposed strategy also includes giving councils powers to pressurise developers to start building on land they own. They will be expected to start building within two years of receiving planning permission, as opposed to the current three-year deadline.
Currently 60 per cent of new homes are built by just 10 companies, so the government will offer support to small independent builders through a £3m Home Building Fund.
To free up more family homes, the government plans to prioritise the building of retirement housing enabling older people, or ‘last-time movers’ as they are often called, to downsize to suitable affordable property tailored to their later life needs.
For our view on the proposals, see the interview with Salvatore Amico.