Housing 2019: PM pushing new design laws for ‘high-quality homes’

Keynote address will call for further reform of homebuilding standards.


The Prime Minister is to push for new design standards to ensure high-quality homes, more social housing, and further tenant rights.

Addressing Housing 2019 in Manchester tomorrow (26th June), she is also expected to set out the next steps on the Social Housing Green Paper agenda, with an action-plan expected in September.

Her intervention comes as figures indicate that, by autumn, a million homes will have been added in under five years.

In Manchester, the number of extra homes being created is up 12%, in Nottingham by 43%, and in Birmingham by 80%.

The number of affordable housing starts has also increased to nearly 54,000 this year.

May is expected to warn against complacency saying: “The housing shortage in this country began not because of a blip lasting one year or one Parliament, but because not enough homes were built over many decades.

“The very worst thing we could do would be to make the same mistake again.”

Last year, more additional homes were delivered than in all but one of the previous 31 years.

But May will maintain the quality of housing must not be compromised by the drive to build more homes.

She will call for new regulations to mandate developers to build higher-quality housing.

LGA Housing spokesman Cllr Martin Tett, said there was now a “critical need” for renewed national leadership on standards for new homes, which give certainty to councils, developers and communities.

“These standards should future-proof all new homes ensuring they are accessible for all ages and all markets, meet the housing needs of our ageing population and are environmentally sustainable.

“High-quality homes for affordable and social rent are desperately needed across the country now, and councils need to be able to play a leading role in solving our housing crisis,” he said.

Currently, some councils make Nationally Described Space Standards a condition of granting planning permission.

But many do not – and even where standards are applied, they are not mandatory.

May will say this has resulted in an uneven playing field, with different rules in different parts of the country, leaving “tenants and buyers facing a postcode lottery”.

She sees mandatory regulations as universal,  providing clear, national standards – potentially leading to increased housebuilding.

May’s is expected to say: “I cannot defend a system in which owners and tenants are forced to accept tiny homes with inadequate storage.

“Where developers feel the need to fill show homes with deceptively small furniture, and where the lack of universal standards encourages a race to the bottom.”

She is also expected to confirm plans to end so-called ‘no-fault’ evictions, with a consultation to be published in the near future.

Also expected is a timetable for further action on the Social Housing Green Paper agenda, calling for more high-quality social housing, better tenant rights, and demanding landlords demonstrate how they have acted on concerns raised.

While admitting there is more to do, May will say reforms have made it easier to get homes built in the right places – including via the £5.5bn housing infrastructure fund, and by giving councils greater freedom to use brownfield sites.

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