In introducing the Housing White Paper to Parliament, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government reported that the issues in the housing market are one of the biggest barriers to social progress in the country.
Our current supply of quality, affordable housing is not meeting demand. Relative to population size, Britain has had Western Europe’s lowest rate of house building for three decades. To meet demand, between 225,000 and 275,000 homes need to be delivered every year. The White Paper, published on 7 February 2017, sets out the Government’s proposals to increase the number of homes and introduce measures to improve the affordability and security for people to buy and rent property.
These proposals are the Government’s response to the issues, and are designed to remove the barriers to house building, get more houses built in the right places, and meet the needs of local communities. Each of the four chapters set out their proposals and provide details of areas of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that are part of the consultation associated with the White Paper.
Planning for the right homes in the right places
The White Paper emphasises the role of the local planning authority and the community, setting out the need for councils to play an active part in meeting the Government target of building 250,000 homes each year. The White Paper is calling for the local planning authorities to take the lead, be ambitious and demonstrate strong leadership. However, the Government reports that, to date, only a third of local planning authorities have an adopted plan in place, leaving communities vulnerable to unplanned development.
Building homes faster
As the gap in demand for housing and the rate of delivery continues to widen, the Housing White Paper addresses the need to deliver homes faster in order to meet the wellpublished target of 250,000 homes per year. The methods proposed to achieve this include boosting capacity in the market, providing more certainty for local communities and councils, and looking at the appeals process.
Diversifying the market
This chapter of the White Paper sets out how new providers will be supported to achieve the development targets, including support for housing associations and local authorities to play an active role in delivering houses themselves.
Innovation is a strong theme of the document and the creation of joint ventures and Local Development Corporations are welcomed to enable innovative developments of mixed tenure housing sites.
Helping people now
The measures proposed to fix the broken housing market are long term solutions. The ‘Helping People Now’ chapter outlines support that can be provided immediately. These include; continued support for people to buy their own homes with existing products such as Help to Buy and Starter Homes; investment in the Affordable Homes Programme; and introducing further measures in a bid to prevent homelessness.
There is also an intention to amend the NPPF to ensure that a minimum of 10% affordable home ownership units are included in site development plans and it will be mandated that brownfield site developments will contain a higher proportion of starter homes.
Where to next?
APSE will be responding to the White Paper and consulting with our member councils. APSE is keen to ensure that councils are placed at the heart of delivering new homes that are genuinely affordable, and we believe the role of councils will be pivotal in delivering new homes for social rent. Make sure you keep updated by checking our website for housing briefings and signing up to our housing advisory group. Contact Vickie Hacking to add your comments to APSE’s White Paper response.
Vickie Hacking is the APSE Principal Advisor for Housing and Building Maintenance. For more information, email Vickie or call 0161 772 1810.