BSRIA is in support of the government initiative of getting people on the housing ladder with this week’s announcement that the commissioning of 13,000 homes will be built on public land in 2016, but recognises that the ‘proof will be in the pudding’.
Smaller developers will be able to buy sites in England with planning permission in place – with 40 per cent of the new-builds to be affordable ‘starter’ homes aimed at first-time buyers. Direct commissioning allows the government to assume responsibility for developing land, instead of large building firms. Government said that the eight biggest building firms accounted for 50 per cent of the house-building market, and there was a need to involve smaller and medium-sized companies.
Julia Evans, Chief Executive, BSRIA, said: “We understand that government is ‘pulling out all the stops to get the country building’ by directly commissioning the building of up to 13,000 homes on public land, but we hope that this announcement is not rhetoric to hide government failure on new homes. The figure stated is a small percentage of the number of homes actually needed. We know that 90 per cent of people aspire to own their own home, and for many years now home ownership has been in decline.
The availability of small sites is the single biggest barrier to SME house builders increasing their productivity. Any measures that government can introduce that will increase the number of small sites suitable for SME house builders will help address the housing shortfall. It is heartening that most of these sites already have planning permission in place as this can be a long-winded process. Cutting out this time delay should help the house building supply chain.
A perennial issue is who is going to build these essential houses as we still have a construction skills and labour shortage? This is especially the case in such industry SME companies that will be particularly struggling for skilled employees.”
The move will fast-track the creation of at least 30,000 new starter homes by 2020, helping to deliver the government’s commitment to create 200,000 starter homes over the next five years. They will be offered to first-time buyers under 40 at a minimum 20 per cent discount price – which applies to properties worth up to £250,000 outside London, or £450,000 in the capital.
A pilot for the scheme will start on five sites:
- Brownfield land at Old Oak Common, north-west London.
- Former Connaught Barracks, Dover.
- Ex-MoD land at Northstowe, Cambridgeshire.
- Former hospital site at Lower Graylingwell, Chichester.
- MoD site at Daedelus Waterfront, Gosport.