Housing White Paper 2017 Fixing our broken housing market
Housing White Paper 2017 – “Fixing our broken housing market” a summary by Frank Webster.
The Government’s White Paper* was eventually published on 7 February after months of delay. Speculation had been building over what the White Paper would hold. These are our thoughts and reflections having read the document in full:
*For context, the Housing White Paper sets out the government’s policy proposals designed to get more homes built, to increase the number of affordable homes and to improve the private rented sector for tenants.
- Councils in every part of the country will be required to produce a realistic housing plan which should be reviewed at least every five years; assessing the need for the right homes in the right places within the community.
- The government plans to free up public sector sites and make better use of brownfield land encouraging building of higher-density homes near major transport hubs and areas of high housing demand.
- Strong protection for the green belt will remain, with green belt boundaries only being amended in exceptional circumstances.
- In order to speed up building, developers will be required to start building on land where planning permission has already been granted within two years, or the permission will lapse.
- The government plans to support developers by tackling unnecessary delays in planning to speed up the rate of building. A £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund will be used to target the provision of building in the right place at the right time and address skills shortages by growing the construction workforce.
- The Home Builders Fund has been set up to back small independent builders and increase the number of homes built in England.
- Modern and innovative methods of construction which boost productivity are being encouraged including focus on off-site built construction to provide a more responsive way of building as well as reducing bills through higher energy efficiency.
- Upfront fees paid to letting agents will be banned “as soon as parliamentary time allows” to make renting fairer for tenants – no detail but a consultation with industry is due early this year.
The so-called ‘housing crisis’ is a huge issue for governments and not just here in the UK.
It is generally felt this paper contains a wide variety of suggestions on tackling the huge issues with a distinct shift away from previous focus on home ownership acknowledging that not everyone will be able to own their home.
Too Little Too Late? Perhaps, but the Housing Minister (and I personally heard him speak in front of an audience of over 300 real estate agents the day after the release of the White Paper) has stated that there is no ‘silver bullet’, instead the government present a number of small adjustments that over time could help the problem.
Industry feedback is, as you might expect, mixed but reasonably supportive and sees the report as perhaps a ‘timid’ response to a huge problem, albeit ‘gimmick free’ and without the usual headline grabbing suggestions (excepting the potential ban on tenant fees).
It will result in a raft of consultations to thrash out the detail of the proposals outlined but the industry will get a chance to have its own say on how it will reach the targets ministers want. Whether the government will listen, is another matter.