The Housing White Paper – the sector responds

Given the government’s heads-up  on the housing White Paper, here’s a round-up of responses from the sector.

 

Response Grunge Text

Shadow secretary of state for housing John Healey:  

“It is tragically clear from this feeble white paper that seven years of failure on housing under Conservative ministers is set to stretch to ten.

“We were promised a white paper; we’ve got a white flag.

“This is a government with no plan to fix the country’s deepening housing crisis.”

Terrie Alafat CBE, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing:

“The package of measures announced today represents an important shift in housing policy which demonstrates a commitment to tackle our housing crisis.

“It’s particularly pleasing to see the government recognise the need for a broader range of organisations to build new homes, especially the crucial role of local authorities in delivering the housing we need – something we’ve consistently called for.

“However our concern is that much housing remains out of reach for a significant number of people and we would like to see the government back up the package of measures announced today with additional funding and resource in the budget.

“We also think the government should revisit welfare policies we think undermine its commitment to make housing more accessible.”

David Orr, chief executive, National Housing Federation:

“We welcome this government’s ambition to tackle our broken housing market. Today’s positive announcements – combined with the Autumn Statement’s increased flexibility and extra investment – point towards a more comprehensive and strategic framework to fix the housing crisis.

“However, what the nation needs now is unwavering political will and courage to see this through. The public backs building more homes – it is time to get on with the job.

“Land remains a critical barrier; we know that brownfield land alone is not enough. We urgently need to have honest conversations about how greenbelt land is used.

“Measures to boost the scale and speed of supply – through planning mechanisms, tougher local targets and relaxed tenure restrictions – are all extremely positive steps towards ending the housing crisis. We look forward to exploring the detail in the paper itself.

“Encouraging private landlords to offer tenants more security and choice is absolutely the right thing to do. Housing associations share the government’s commitment to improving life for all renters – across the private and social sector – and driving up standards, already offering 50,000 homes to rent on the open market.”

Metropolitan chief executive Brian Johnson:

“The Housing White Paper has a range of targeted measures that we believe will help to support house-building in the coming years.

“At Metropolitan we have built a significant pipeline of new homes in recent years and, in that context, measures to simplify planning rules and better resource council planning departments are welcome and will help facilitate development. We also support the government’s move away from mandatory starter homes targets, towards a broader focus on home ownership and affordable rent, which will give us greater flexibility to deliver more affordable homes.

“The government’s commitment to provide certainty on future rent levels is particularly welcome. We believe that certainty on rent policy for housing associations is vital to help unlock capacity for truly affordable homes in the future and the sooner they can give clarity on this, the sooner it will help to support our growing pipeline of homes.”

“We look forward to seeing further details on this and other measures soon.”

Sian Berry, Green Party London Assembly member: 

“As a private renter paying London rents I’m pleased to see the government is at last catching up with the real world on renting. We have suffered from years of obsession with home ownership and a long list of failed policies such as ‘help to buy’, shared ownership and starter homes.

“But still their definition of affordable rent at 20 per cent below market rates is out of date. In London, City Hall has already defined a London Living Rent that relates to wages not market prices. If we can use this, then we have some hope of getting some new homes to rent that people can genuinely afford.

“There are still huge holes in this policy. Even if 50,000 truly Living Rent homes were built with these initiatives this would still only help 5% of nearly one million London households who currently live in private rented housing. Devolved powers for smart controls on rent rises need to be looked at seriously for cities like ours.

“The biggest hole of all is the need to get councils building council homes again by lifting their borrowing caps. This is pure common sense that the government should take action on for London. Across the city too many councils are building expensive private homes and demolishing council flats by the thousand.

“If you ask people what will solve the housing crisis, they say more council homes, but real help to do this is missing from this white paper. It even reinforces right to buy which has stripped away council homes for decades.”

“The paper rightly focuses spatial development around good public transport links, which will benefit London but not if the policy results in weakened protections for the Green Belt. I have argued that this – and protection for the Metropolitan Open Land in London – should be strengthened to ensure we make the most of every town centre and brownfield site in the coming years. If we don’t then we will see developers choosing greenfield sites first and the return of 1980s style car-dependent sprawl.”

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB:

“Both house builders and local authorities agree that the government will not be able to build one million homes by 2020 unless council planning departments are properly funded.

“That’s why SME house builders will give a cautious welcome to the announcement in today’s Housing White Paper that central government will allow councils to increase planning fees by 20% if they commit to investing the extra funds in planning alone and not in other areas.

“This is something that the FMB has been calling for and in our view, is one of the biggest game changers to come from today’s 100 page Housing White Paper. If this can be shown to deliver real improvements in planning, then it would make a good case for further increases along the lines the White Paper suggests.”

“Stimulating greater output among smaller scale house builders will not only help us build thousands of additional homes, it will also help us deliver those homes more quickly. The business model of an SME developer relies upon building out sites and then selling the properties as quickly as possible.

“The government clearly recognises the importance of this model in meeting its housing target and is right to identify the decline of the SME house builder as a key factor behind the continued shortfall of new homes. The reforms to the country’s planning system, outlined in the White Paper, are important to this end – they place greater emphasis on using small undeveloped sites and further support one-off ‘windfall’ sites.”

“Delivering more homes on small sites doesn’t just provide opportunities for SME builders but on average delivers homes more quickly than on large sites. This White Paper will result in ambitious new housing targets for councils which they will have to deliver against – these targets will not be met through an over-reliance on large developers and large sites.

“If local authorities fail to meet their targets they could lose control over their own planning policy and the threat of this should provide the impetus for councils to push more small sites through the system. It is in everyone’s interest to see SMEs play a far greater role in house building and small sites are key to this.”

Cllr Martin Tett, housing spokesman at the Local Government Association:

“This White Paper includes some encouraging signs that government is listening to councils on how to boost housing supply and increase affordability. We are pleased it has taken on board a number of recommendations made in our recent Housing Commission final report.

“Communities must have faith that the planning system responds to their aspirations for their local area, rather than simply being driven by national targets. To achieve this, councils must have powers to ensure that new homes are affordable and meet their assessments of local need, are attractive and well-designed, and are supported by the schools, hospitals, roads and other services vital for places to succeed.

“All types of homes – including those for affordable and social rent – have to be built to solve our housing crisis and flexibility around starter homes is much-needed recognition of this. It is important that councils have powers to ensure a mix of homes are built, alongside the infrastructure to support strong communities.

“Our cities, towns and villages are already saying ‘yes’ to development as nine in 10 planning applications are approved, but increasingly the homes are not being built. Giving councils the power to force developers to build homes more quickly and to properly fund their planning services are vital for our communities to prosper.

“Local government believes even more needs to be done to rapidly build more genuinely affordable homes to help families struggling to meet housing costs, provide homes to rent, reduce homelessness and tackle the housing waiting lists many councils have.

“For this to happen, councils desperately need the powers and access to funding to resume their historic role as a major builder of affordable homes. This means being able to borrow to invest in housing and to keep 100 per cent of the receipts from properties sold through Right to Buy to replace homes and reinvest in building more of the genuine affordable homes our communities desperately need.”

PlaceShapers chair Sinead Butters:

“At last the government is recognising the importance of building homes not tenures and of building homes that communities need. It is clear the government recognises that different areas need different solutions and finding the flexibility to respond is key. That must include flexibility on rent so people can afford to lives in the homes from where they can build lives.

“We look forward to discussing with government rent certainty after 2020. We welcome the deregulation measures referred to in the White Paper, and are embracing the challenge to push our capacity to build more, whilst driving efficiency.  However, a certain footing for supported housing in the long term, full rent flexibility, and ensuring new build meet the needs of our communities, whatever tenure, is paramount.

“We also welcome the focus on moving away from overreliance on large developers towards local builders who know and understand local issues and can unlock sites. We are already working in partnership with our SME contractors and local authorities to do this. The tackling of nimbyism and driving local authorities to release their land are all also important steps to addressing the housing crisis.”

Peter Quinn, partnerships director, Lovell

“Lovell welcomes the government’s attempts to increase housing supply which is something the country desperately needs. Well thought-through local plans could be a key contributor to provide certainty for developers but for this to happen, planning departments need more resources – we are pleased that the White Paper appears to recognise this issue.

“We also welcome the support shown to provide a greater amount of rented housing, be it affordable or private.

“The requirement for greater speed of construction, including using modern methods of construction, is a strategy that Lovell embraces and is already delivering. If it is to really work then the government can assist greatly by making land available to people like ourselves who are willing to rise to this challenge.”

Neil Hadden, chief executive of Genesis Housing Association:

“Today’s White Paper correctly highlights the importance of mixed tenure communities, partnerships and new ways of thinking in working to fix the broken housing market.

“Housing associations including Genesis are stepping up to the challenge of delivering high volumes of new homes to meet the demands of a growing market.  The sector is also innovating in the private rental sphere, offering a fairer deal and more security via flexible long-term tenancies and fewer fees and charges.

“It’s also positive to see the government repeating its commitment to housing association deregulation.  We have long maintained that unshackling the sector from excessive financial and regulatory constraints would boost momentum for future housing supply.”

Graeme Brown, interim chief executive of Shelter:

“It’s good to see the government paying much needed attention to the country’s appalling housing crisis in its new white paper, and the shift in focus from homeowners to the millions of struggling renters is right.

“Talk of longer-term tenancies is welcome but risks being disingenuous unless these are rolled out across the board, not just for a handful of people living in new build-to-rent properties.

“The scourge of inadequate tenancies, and indeed our broken housing system, are fuelled by the shocking lack of affordable homes available to rent or buy, so the government is right to want to ‘get Britain building’.

“Cheaper and more accessible land is one of the best ways to get us building the genuinely affordable homes people across the country so urgently need. We’re pleased secretary of state Sajid Javid has announced a crackdown on what he calls ‘fat cat developers’ who acquire land but then fail to build on it for years.

“The white paper poses the right questions, what we need now is quick and bold action that helps people in need of a decent home tomorrow not in 10 years.”

LandAid chief executive Paul Morrish: 
“Decent housing is an absolute right. Yet for the 80,000 young people who experience homelessness every year, an affordable place to live is still out of reach.

“The government’s push for a wider range of affordable housing options is a small step in the right direction. However these developments will not happen overnight and the government’s own admission that it is behind on its house-building target shows that we need more urgent solutions.

“We must embrace the use of wasted stock to boost housing supply. It is fast and cheap to bring empty homes back into use, and countless neighbourhoods across the UK have seen the benefits.

“With house prices set to rise to £1m by 2037, it is vital the government recognises the possibilities of using existing housing stock more effectively. Until then, vulnerable families and young people will continue to find themselves on the streets.”

Interim chief executive of One Housing, John Gregory:

“We’re delighted the government recognises that to tackle the housing crisis more needs to be done to help people rent a secure home as well as buy.

“Our tenants show lots of interest in buying their homes but think they’ll never be able to afford it despite recent government initiatives. We are ready and willing to work with local authorities to help build more high-quality, affordable and secure homes to rent or buy in the areas where they are most needed.”

Habinteg’s vice-chair Andrew Gibson:

“We welcome measures in the Housing White Paper that seek to deliver increased housing options for older and disabled people. We’re pleased with the explicit references to accessible housing and the recognition that government, local authorities and developers can do more to meet current and future demand.

“We hope the government will continue to progress with the strategy which has accessible homes and inclusion at its heart. With an ageing population, any long-term attempt by government to tackle the housing crisis must consider this a top priority.

“We know that it’s vitally important that we increase the supply of mainstream accessible and easily adaptable homes across the country so people have choices, independence and access to employment.

“With only 7% of homes meeting the most basic access standards, the options are as limited for young disabled people looking to buy their first home as they are for older people looking to right size for their needs. What is clear is that new homes should be future-proofed, fit for purpose and able to adapt to life’s changing demands.

We’re hopeful this White Paper creates the conditions for this to be delivered.”

Paul Staley, director of PRS at SDL Group:

“Whilst encouraging, today’s announcement has perhaps raised more questions than it has answered. The drive for long Private Rental Leases may well put more power in the hands of the tenant, but from   an investor perspective, this could potentially bring its own problems. Arguably, for those renters who are anti-social and don’t pay their rent, it may help protect them further from eviction.

“In the drive for new housing, bringing land into circulation ‘at the right price’ is going to be key. However, I’m not sure how this is going to be achieved, as putting restrictions on land use may cause issues with the valuing and disposal of assets moving forward. It’s vital that any restrictions will need to have a time limit in order to make this sustainable for years to come.

“It also appears that there will be a focus in high density developments – often large apartment blocks, housing numerous tenants. This is the direction most institutions are following as it’s an easier and more straightforward transaction to invest £50m into one of these schemes, rather than, say, 500 houses spread over 10 sites in the north of England. If we’re not careful, I feel the effort to grow PRS may hve a very strong southern and city centre bias.”

“It is, however, encouraging to see a growing acceptance of the need for PRS, with more financial backing set to be aligned with this area. The government’s move to place further emphasis on councils creating rental schemes may help in making land available and should encourage those to recognise PRS as a tenure type they will need to consider.

“The white paper is certainly a brave move by the prime minister, but a progressive and much needed one at that. Time will tell as to whether the execution is as good as the plan.”

Sir Steve Bullock, London Councils’ executive member for housing:

“The UK has not been building enough homes to properly house its population for many years. This negatively impacts the quality of life for everyone, on the aspirations of young people in particular and on businesses.

“In London alone we now have 50,000 households in temporary accommodation and have seen consistent increases- laying bare the full impact of welfare reform coupled with a housing supply crisis.

“In recent years, London boroughs have had to make difficult and often unpopular decisions to increase the amount of housing supply within the constraints of the existing housing and planning system. While the housing crisis is particularly keenly felt in the capital, London’s housing shortage cannot be solved within London alone, no matter how high or densely we build. Therefore, we welcome the White Paper’s boldness in opening up a national debate about how and where we can build more houses in the UK.

“We also welcome government’s commitment to supporting build to rent. London Councils has maintained a one-size-fits-all approach will not work – and that we must see a variety of homes, of a range of tenures built to offer housing solutions for all Londoners.

“We also would encourage government to build on the positive direction in the paper and devolve more powers to councils to allow them to develop. Simply putting pressure on councils to build more is not acceptable, particularly as many have clear ambitions to build.

“Authorities must be given the powers, support and resources to realise these ambitions – which means cutting red tape around planning regulations and providing adequate funding to support major housing projects.”

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at the UK Green Building Council:

“The government is rightly committed to a major housebuilding drive, closing the gap between demand and supply, and putting new homes within reach of those currently being left behind.  We welcome the government’s focus on the creative use of brownfield land, new support for planning authorities, and efforts to encourage the better use of existing homes.

“Whilst delivering a significant quantity of homes is crucial, so too is delivering high quality homes. If we do not aim for zero carbon standards now, we will likely need to go back and retrofit these buildings in just ten years’ time in order to meet our carbon targets.

“The good news is that putting quality, good design and cutting edge construction methods at the heart of the housebuilding process is actually conducive to achieving the scale of housebuilding we need to see. A focus on urban areas – where people want to live and work – requires intelligent design and the engagement of local people to deliver high-quality, high-density developments that work for new owners and existing communities alike.”

Tony Lewis, Head of Policy at CIEH:

“More young people and families are renting their homes long-term and plans to extend the length of tenancy agreements is a step in the right direction. This will give occupants more security, an opportunity to make a home for themselves and put down roots in their local communities.

“At the same time, landlords have a responsibility to ensure accommodation is fit for people to live in as housing conditions have a significant impact on physical health and mental wellbeing. New homes need to be built to modern standards and there is also a need to ensure the older housing stock is brought up to 21 Century standards.

“Plans to build new homes are desperately needed but developers and councils need to ensure that any brownfield land developed is properly decontaminated. Environmental Health officers have a vital role in working with their planning colleagues to ensure new developments are built quickly as well as being fit for purpose.”

Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat Leader:

“A government that thinks affordable homes can be worth £450k and should be available to those on £80k frankly doesn’t have a clue.

“Millions of people across the country are struggling to make ends meet, with many paying over half their income on rent.

“This Conservative government is letting them down by failing to build the genuinely affordable homes they need and to replace homes sold off under Right to Buy.”

CLA President Ross Murray:

“The licensing process is one of the most cited sources of frustration for our members seeking to invest in building homes or business premises in the countryside.  This reform will provide a much needed boost to development and protect newts at the same time.

“It has the potential to transform the preservation of important species, while at the same time reducing costs and uncertainty for landowners considering development across England. That is why we have argued for common sense reform for so long.

“We welcome the proactive way that Natural England has sought to address this problem and to ministers for having the confidence to provide the necessary investment to roll this out. However, the reform should be extended beyond newts to benefit bats and dormice so that the development of much needed homes across the countryside can be realised without the burden of unnecessary red tape.”

Friends of the Earth (FoE) says the White Paper sees ‘developers win again’.

Naomi Luhde-Thompson, senior planner and policy advisor for FoE said the paper showed little to indicate that the government are prepared to take the measures needed to properly address the housing crisis.

“There’s never been a better moment to admit that the de-regulation of the planning system in England has only benefited one group: large-scale, or volume, housebuilders, and not people or the environment.

“We need homes built to zero carbon standards that are affordable but the changes made to the planning system in the last few years have clearly failed to deliver on building more homes – let alone affordable or zero-carbon ones.

“What we need is to scrap the most damaging policies, and the changes to permitted development, and give local government a much bigger role. For any hope of progress, it should also not be beyond the pale to make sustainable development a legal requirement, which would give more protection to our most precious places.”

Peter Walters, Chief Executive of First Wessex:
“Anyone who cares about meeting everyone’s housing needs, rather than those of aspiring home owners, must be pleased with the government’s change of heart and commitment to ‘new homes of every kind’. Planning relaxations, encouraging development and more protection for private renters are all welcome. But the lack of commitment to social rented housing is very disappointing and the retreat from addressing the green belt issue equally so.

“The failure of the White Paper to grasp the nettle of selective building on the green belt is deeply disappointing. Estimates vary but there’s general consensus that releasing just one per cent of green belt land could enable upwards of 400,000 new homes. Governments are often criticised for tinkering at the edges, but here’s a rare case where that was exactly what was required.

“So full marks for fine aspirations. But there’s an imbalance both in tenure and geographical distribution that desperately needs addressing and, without more detail, I’m not sure how this set of measures will get us from where we are to where we want to be.”

Neil Brearley, founding director of Cast:

”The government’s commitment to support elderly people looking to downsize can provide much needed relief to the housing market, freeing up existing housing stock. With the possibility of hundreds of thousands of extra homes being released, it is vital that effective frameworks of incentives are given to older people.

“The emergence of a dedicated senior living sector, with houses designed specifically for the elderly, will help address the challenges posed by downsizing. But there are a number of key obstacles currently preventing its fuller emergence in the UK.”

Adam Lent, NLGN director:

“The housing crisis in the UK is as much about politics as it is about regulation, so while there is a lot in the housing white paper to welcome – particularly moves to get house builders building – we have to be honest that politicians have not always played the most constructive role in getting the population to accept the realities of housing development.

“The fact, for example, that neither of the main parties will even open a national debate about building on green belt is a case in point. We need politicians to be really honest with people who are lucky enough to own their own home, and tell them that they may well have to take a hit to allow struggling families and young people to live in a decent home.”

Mark Scott, Blake Morgan:

“The publishing of today’s White Paper heralds a significant shift in the national housing strategy that should be welcomed by many buyers, sellers and housebuilders.

“It has reached a tipping point where simply not enough homes are being built to meet demand and reforms are long overdue.

“Home ownership should be within everyone’s reach, but what is significant about these measures is they could be the first real catalyst for change in the rental market, which is at a record high, particularly in London.

“Incentives for developers to build higher where there is shortage of land, more affordable rental housing, and slashing timescales for housebuilding once planning permission is given, could breathe new life into the housing market at a time when it is really needed.

“The test will be whether the measures actually equate to more homes being delivered by developers given the instability in the past few years and uncertainty around Brexit.

“One of the proposals is for developers to commence site construction within two years of planning permission being granted as opposed to the current three year limit which will encourage quicker completion dates.

“This is a certainly a step in the right direction, but a real incentive in my view would be for developers to be offered a tax incentive to achieve early structural completion dates for their buyers and further reforms to the level of Stamp Duty Land Tax payable by first time buyers.”

Simon Wing, housing partner at GatenbySanderson:

“We welcome policy changes designed to help meet UK housing demands, but policy itself won’t deliver change. The government’s white paper sets out hurdles for housing associations to jump using innovative and sustainable solutions. The harsh reality is that the strategic, financial and governance skills needed to ensure that these recommendations translate into delivery are short.

“Despite this being an exciting time for the housing sector with opportunities to flourish as a result of the new recommendations, leaders of today need to give clear direction and come equipped with the strength of character to cope with challenges ahead.”

Tim Roache, GMB general secretary:

“Another day, another housing announcement. If the government had started building projects for each of their 1,000 policy announcements we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today.

“Under David Cameron house building fell to the lowest level of any peacetime prime minister since the 1920s, homelessness has rocketed and the number of homeowners has plummeted by more than 200,000.

“That’s not to mention the appalling lack of council housing – and the extortionate rents private landlords charge, often pocketing taxpayer cash while they’re at it.

“We need 250,000 homes a year to keep up with demand.

“The answer isn’t rocket science – stop dithering and start building.”

Joe Anderson, mayor of Liverpool and Core Cities UK cabinet member for Housing:

“If we are to generate growth for all, we need to make sure everyone has access to a decent, warm and affordable home. The lack of genuinely affordable housing represents a significant threat to our cities’ economic and social futures.

“Previous policies haven’t worked. It is not in the interest of the major housebuilders to significantly increase the supply of housing and it remains to be seen if the SME sector has the capacity or resource to fill the gap and deliver government’s one million homes target.

“Other delivery mechanisms have to be used to bridge this gap whether this be greater funding for registered providers to build more or changes to financial regulations that will allow local authorities to provide more housing.

“We welcome government’s new focus on homes for rent both as a tenure in its own right and also a staircase into home ownership, however the quality of rented homes needs to be improved.

“We also welcome the government’s new flexibilities around the affordable homes programme, tackling rogue landlords and improving the security of tenure.

“However, there is still much about current housing policy that needs to change. National policies are still too focused on issues affecting London and the South East and funding streams are still overly complex and require simplifying.

“Cities also need dedicated regeneration funding to help deliver housing on brownfield land that will ease pressure elsewhere (including on green belts), deliver sustainable neighbourhoods and address the issues associated with an ageing and poor quality housing stock.

“The housing crisis requires urgent action, tailored to suit the specific local needs of communities, and not more rhetoric.

“Westminster needs to work with us if it is to have any hope of meeting its ambitious target and we plan to meet with the secretary of state soon to discuss this further.”

Jon Jennings, director, Cheffins:

“Today’s Housing White Paper is yet again an effort from the government to increase productivity for housebuilders and try and speed up the planning process. There is a fine balance to be found here and we must ensure that our countryside is protected from inappropriate development whilst still providing enough new homes built to meet the UK’s chronic levels of demand.

“Measures to protect the green belt whilst still delivering on the forecasted one million new homes by 2020 do seem to be at odds with one another and it will be interesting to see how this develops over the coming months.

“The councils now need to play a pivotal role in increasing output and delivery in a sustainable manner and by announcing that councils can take land out of the green belt in only ‘exceptional circumstances’ once again brings the responsibility of delivery to each of the UK’s individual Districts.

“Measures to decrease land-banking should also play a positive role in increasing the numbers of new homes built and we should certainly see an increase in available land once these restrictions on developers are put into practice. However, this should be accompanied by an increase in the decision making process and discharge of conditions.

“The use of a consistent formula to calculate housing demand is welcomed and will allow a transparent and true assessment of housing demand to be made rather than the current scenario where figures are manipulated to meet the views of elected members.

“Proposals to increase planning fees should only be allowed if they result in a real improvement in the delivery of planning permissions and are ‘ring fenced’ to planning departments.”

Ian Thomas, co-founder and CIO of LendInvest:

“The housing white paper makes it clear that the onus is on all levels of government and industry to deliver more homes of every type.

“The success of small scale housebuilders is of critical importance to the increase in housing supply. In the execution of these measures, government must put SMEs at the fore, providing them with access to finance, land and skills to put homes on British streets.

“We want to see these small builders and property investors at the front of the queue to purchase public land and we look forward to opportunities to work with government to get public finance into the hands of these developers.”

Jason Lowes, partner in the planning team at commercial property and planning consultancy Rapleys:

“The switch of focus from ownership to renting seems to be the next, although not the first, step in a fundamental change of direction by Theresa May’s post-Brexit Conservatives from the party’s historic championing of home ownership.

“At the local level, the plan to give councils greater ability to withdraw planning permissions seems a strange beast. Of course, councils can already issue completion notices to developers but demanding works get off the ground in two years rather than three risks putting significant pressure on developers.

“The various post consent, and pre commencement loopholes to jump through can sometimes be demanding to address in three years. In all honesty, though, I can’t see many local authorities wanting to actively withdraw planning permissions, if that is the intention – it may risk them being seen as closing the door on future investment and growth.

“Meanwhile, high density development around transport hubs is an old idea, but still a good one. Further, a more standardised approach to calculating housing demand has the potential to increase certainty and transparency – however, the nuts and bolts are likely to be controversial.

“All in all, the government is presenting this as a fresh start in the interests of increasing the quantum of housing but, quite frankly, how much the announced changes to the planning system will do in practice remains to be seen.”

Valerie Bannister, head of lettings at Your Move:

“Thousands of people are turning to the private rental sector as the most convenient and financially viable option available to them. The sector is home to a diverse range of people, from those who need the flexibility of moving around easily because of work to those who want affordable decent housing that meets the needs of their family.

“As it stands, the PRS does not have a ‘one size fits all’ option to meet the needs of both renters and landlords. A mix of tenancy options such as the three-year tenancy are needed in order to answer to the growing number of people who will benefit from consistent, affordable, medium term housing which allow them to plan for the future.

“Three year tenancies will also benefit landlords as they can avoid the uncertainty of unoccupancy and extended void periods. However, this shouldn’t detract from the absolute need for shorter term contracts, which offer tenants greater flexibility if they are looking to move to a new property or area for a brief period of time.
“There is nothing to prevent longer tenancies becoming the norm much sooner – in cases where this fits both the tenant’s and the landlord’s needs. We have seen tenants rent the same property for 20 years on a rolling monthly basis which has suited both the landlord and the tenant without any formality required of a three-year tenancy.

“In the long term, we want to bridge the gap between renters and landlords and form trusting relationships which are in step with market needs whether a short term let or a longer tenure.
“Although homeownership is out of reach for thousands in the UK, if the flexibility of renting can be combined with the stability and reassurance of longer residencies or suitable short term possibilities, for many, renting would be appealing for the long-term, as well as short-term option.”

Jonathan Cox, partner and head of housing at Anthony Collins Solicitors:

“It’s about time the government accepted that for some people, renting is the only viable financial option. However, simply increasing housing supply will not address the housing crisis in this country.

“It’s vitally important that a range of affordable housing options are available to the public alongside market-led solutions.

“Numerous housing associations are already ramping up delivery of affordable housing for the next few years – they need to be left to get on with it. The extra £1.4bn funding announced in the Autumn Statement will make a difference, but it will take time for tangible outcomes to be realised.

“What developing associations need is ongoing support and continuity rather than repeated disruption and intervention.”

“While giving longer security of tenure to tenants in the private rented sector may be seen as positive, what is the point of giving people security of tenure when their market rents are unaffordable?

“The average household in the private rented sector spends 43% of their income on rent. Reducing this burden with a supply of affordable rented housing delivered by housing associations and councils is fundamental for society and social progress.”

Alex Ely, Mae:

“The intention to speed up the delivery of sites with planning permission is welcome, and the new capacity funding to develop planning departments, simplified plan-making, and more funding for infrastructure will help stretched local authorities. But approvals are not the problem, the White paper acknowledges that the number of completions fall far behind the number of approvals.

“More than a third of new homes that were granted planning permission between 2010/11 and 2015/16 have yet to be built and the priority has to be to get building.

“The White Paper rightfully addresses the need to diversify the market backing small and medium-sized builders to grow, including through the Home Building Fund; and I welcome the support for Custom build manufacturers, of which we are one.

“However, the only time housing supply has matched demand has been when the public sector has built as many houses a year as the private sector and there is limited commitment in the White paper to increasing Local Authority delivery in a meaningful way for example by reviewing their borrowing caps.

“Nonetheless the extra £1.4bn for the Affordable Homes programme taking total investment in this programme to over £7bn to build around 225,000 affordable homes in this parliament is very welcome.

“There is a curious statement saying that the Government will support the development of digital platforms on design, to create pattern-books or 3D models that can be implemented through the planning process and used to consult local people on potential designs for their area.

“Whilst this could be a promising way to support innovative design we have seen from the risible ‘Starter Homes Design Guide’ that the former Housing Minister Brandon Lewis launched back in 2015 that if poorly written it could spell disaster for the quality of our housing.

“There is also a worrying statement about reviewing the Nationally Described Space Standard, which is frustrating as there has been so much work done getting these supported and adopted. I would urge the RIBA to step forward and consult with the Housing Minister on both these aspects.

The government continue in their stubbornness over the greenbelt, which can only mean further hernia development rather than natural expansion. We know that just a 1km ring of greenbelt from inside the M25 would yield enough land for a generation of building at current rates.

“The government is still convinced that we can park more cars without making parking lot bigger. However, it does acknowledge the need to release land in the right place for housing development in areas where there is suitable infrastructure and offer a £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund to further help.

We know that the population of pensionable age will grow by 3.8 million over the next 25 years and that a lack of suitable accommodation puts a huge burden on our health and social services.

“The government’s new statutory duty for local planning authorities to produce guidance on how their local development documents should meet the housing needs of older and disabled people is a good move and we look forward to more opportunities to design specialist third age housing.

Dan Wilson Craw, director of Generation Rent:

“Sajid Javid has the right analysis about the plight of renters, but his White Paper has failed to offer us anything of substance.

“By limiting longer tenancies to new purpose-built private rented homes, the government has offered renters the bare minimum. The institutional investors building homes for rent are already keen to encourage long term tenants, and it will typically be the better-off who can afford to rent them.

“The vast majority of tenants will remain in existing properties, with no certainty over their home beyond the next 12 months.

“The government should incentivise all landlords to offer tenants greater security by putting a cost on the use of evictions where the tenant has done nothing wrong. Only last week, the US city of Portland, Oregon, did exactly that.

“Until the government builds enough to overcome the housing shortage, high rents will continue to stifle living standards, and ambition here is also lacking. Renters on stagnant wages need homes that cost no more than a third of their income, not ones let at 80% of the market rent, with a sticker that says ‘affordable’.”

Localis chief executive Liam Booth-Smith:

“The real test of the government’s housing white paper will be whether they can diversify and disrupt the developer market. Large house builders are close to capacity and, to be frank, appear content with the status quo.

“The commitment to encourage greater participation from small and medium sized builders, particularly by supporting their routes to capital, is a smart move by Sajid Javid. We should be in no doubt however, without radically changing the shape of the developer market, soft promises on political leadership and additional funds will be useless in helping government hit its housebuilding target.”

“It is fair that local leaders should be held to greater account when not enough homes are built in the places where they are needed. The government is right to recognise that housing markets look very different depending on where you are in the country, building lots of homes in Middlesbrough won’t do much to alleviate the pressures on London, Birmingham or Bristol.

“The slow pace of local plan making is a huge issue that repels investors and developers from an area. It is right that local authorities are encouraged to put out plans for consultation quicker, and that it will be easier to do so. Enabling combined authorities and city mayors to allocate strategic sites is also sensible. But for their part, government should stop holding up local plans because, for instance, they include green belt development.”

Rob Weaver, director of investments at Property Partner:

“With more and more people forced to rent permanently, it’s clear that there is an urgent need for affordable rental stock, longer-term tenancies, particularly for families, and a professionalised rental sector.

“The new commitment to boost the supply of affordable rental stock is clearly a sage one and if successful will help ensure that rental prices remain in check with wages, and other prices in the economy.

“The concept of introducing properties designated for long-term rental is a bold move. Properties will remain in the rented sector for a set minimum period of time, which should reduce prices and help keep rental values lower. Ownership of this type of property may well be restricted to primarily large institutions.”

Tougher action on landlords:“We welcome the tougher action promised against rogue landlords making the rental market a safer, more secure place for tenants. Fair rents, improved rights for tenants and first-class professional management is something we fully support.  But it needs to be effective and not an additional burden to the good landlords, as the landlord selective licensing scheme seems to have been.

“Traditional landlords are suffering from recent tax changes including cuts in mortgage interest relief due to kick in this April. With increasing constraints on making a profit or even balancing the books, buy-to-let investors could be forced to either sell up or increase rents.”

Institutional investment for build to rent:“The emphasis on funding from institutional investors is logical, but it is unclear what tangible incentives the government will use to encourage them to support house building, beyond the existing measures announced in last year’s the Autumn Statement.

“This feels like a missed opportunity to remove the additional 3% stamp duty tax for institutional investors, which would provide a direct financial incentive for them to invest in build to rent accommodation, in line with the government’s pledge to support the private rented sector.

Prefabricated buildings: “This is a new unknown with a tarnished history. The concern with prefabricated homes is that they follow in the footsteps of the previous batch, which are now largely unmortgageable and undesirable. These are being built because they are cheaper and quicker, but is this the right move in the long term?”

Greenbelt: “At present, building on the greenbelt would have felt like a lazy move towards a cheaper option, when we have plenty of brownfield sites to take advantage of. Our own recent research into long-term empty homes and empty council-owned garages has shown that there’s clearly a swathe of underused brownfield land.”

Support for small builders: “Support for smaller developers will inject diversity into the so-called broken housing market. They typically lack the balance sheets and financial firepower to build stock as fast they could so the government’s Home Building Fund will give them the financial keys.”

Hackney mayor Phillip Glanville:

“This White Paper is classic style over substance. The government’s analysis that the current housing market is broken is spot on, unfortunately its proposals to fix it fall well short of what’s necessary to build the thousands of genuinely affordable homes we desperately need.

“It’s particularly disappointing that it didn’t move at all to lift the borrowing cap so councils like Hackney can directly fund and build homes for their communities, nor is there any new money for the existing fund to help councils and housing associations build homes for social rent or shared ownership.

“The lack of real substance regarding the private rented sector, whether that is addressing sky-high rents or offering more protection for tenants, was also a missed opportunity.

“We will be feeding into forthcoming consultations, both reiterating what we’ve told government many times and building on existing policy solutions.”

Amy Nettleton, assistant development director – sales and marketing at Aster Group and chair of the National Housing Group:

“The white paper includes some very encouraging proposals and we’re pleased to see the government widen out the starter homes policy to include shared ownership, which should encourage more developers to build more homes for this crucial tenure.

“Shared ownership was explicitly referenced by the secretary of state as one solution to helping people realise their dream of home ownership. This kind of positive rhetoric and backing is vital to ensure it is seen as a truly mainstream tenure and route on to the housing ladder.

“The commitment to support SME housebuilders is also welcome news. Partnership working, including between larger housebuilders and housing associations, and support of smaller developers are relatively under-utilised ways of boosting volumes – the most important thing given the crisis is in supply rather than on the demand side.”

 

 

 

 

 

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