New housing agency launched to boost housebuilding

Homes England underway from today with a brief to have an average of 300,000 homes a year built by the mid-2020s.


Homes England has launched today (Jan 11) succeeding the Homes and Communities Agency with a brief to ‘build big’.

The body opens up ambitions outlined the government’s Housing White Paper in bringing together their existing planning expertise and new land buying powers to lead on securing land, supporting smaller and more innovative house builders into the market and resource brownfield sites nationwide.

Homes England will also play a major role in fixing the housing market by helping to deliver an average of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

Visiting Alconbury in Cambridgeshire – a former airfield which will bring 5,000 new homes – Housing Secretary Sajid Javid toured the 1,420 acre site which is just one of the many locations across the country receiving government funding to build more homes.

Javid said: “This Government is determined to build the homes our country needs and help more people get on the housing ladder.

“Homes England will be at the heart of leading this effort.

“The development at Alconbury is a prime example of how the agency has worked to deliver thousands of new homes, as well as improve roads and create space for local businesses.”

Nick Walkley, Chief Executive of Homes England, said the new body would be looking to link “ambitious partners” to  remove barriers to house building.

His chairman Sir Ed Lister sees Homes England as stimulating demand for modern methods of construction and, ultimately, disrupting the housing market.

Melanie Leech, Chief Executive, British Property Federation, said continuing policy support for a multi-tenure approach to housing supply is “vital” if the Housing White Paper and the changes to the NPPF are to have any chance of making a significant impact on volume and affordability.

To Terrie Alafat CBE, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, allowing new and innovative approaches could make a real difference – if the new homes are delivered by working closely with local partners to build “the right homes, in the right places and (ensuring) that people can afford them.”

Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s Housing spokesman, said councils must be part of the solution to chronic housing shortage and able to resume their “historic role” as a major builder of affordable homes.

“For (Homes England) to be a success, it is crucial that the agency works positively with local government to deliver the mix of homes, infrastructure and places that people want to see.

“Every local housing market is different and councils must be able to combine and use Homes England funding flexibly to meet local need and take local opportunities,” he said.

Under pressure over a ‘broken’ housing market, the government see Homes England as a foundation to build on more than 1.1 million homes and has supported over 255,000 people supported by Help to Buy since 2010.

Over 300 councils have now published a brownfield register, revealing over 26,000 hectares of  potential development land on over 16,000 sites.

More registers expected to be published over the next few weeks.

By prioritising both the areas where people want to live and developers can build, Homes England will use the registers to progress brownfield development across the country.

The agency has already been supporting developments across the country including 10,000 new homes on a brownfield site northwest of Cambridge and a 3,200 new homes site in South Yorkshire.

Homes England will develop a new commercial approach to acquiring, preparing, managing and developing land in areas of high demand and strategic importance.

By focusing on using both the land and money to support builders of all sizes to increase supply will continue to support accelerated construction on a selection of sites.

Meeting housing demand is also about supporting the SME sector and over £750 million of the £1 billion short term fund has been committed to SMEs, custom builders and developers using modern methods of construction which will result in over 25,500 homes being built.

Homes England has a brief to back this initiative, boosting SME builders.

The Homes and Communities Agency was established in 2008 as the government’s housing, land and regeneration agency, and the regulator of social housing providers in England.

During the autumn budget the Chancellor confirmed the Homes and Communities Agency would be re-branded as Homes England.

Under this new guise, Homes England is lending £45.07 million to Urban & Civic through the Home Building Fund to ramp up the delivery of 4,507 homes by funding enabling works and infrastructure.

The loan will be repaid over 11 years as serviced land is sold to house builders.

The £1 billion short term fund is part of the Home Building Fund which also consists of a £2 billion long term fund for infrastructure.

A further £1.5 billion was announced in the Autumn Budget for the short term fund.

Government has previously announced that the Regulator of Social Housing will be separated from the Agency and established as a standalone organisation.

Homes England will be a commercially-focused land and investment agency.

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