The UK is up for sale as housing minister Gavin Barwell turns estate agent touting land for hundreds of thousands of new homes.
Barwell made his big pitch at MIPIM, reaching out to the world’s housebuilders with the promise of a personal touch.
“If you’ve got parts of the country where you want to build homes and you’re struggling to find land, you come and see me and I will then raise those issues with the relevant local authorities,” Barwell told would-be investors at the UK government’s first MIPIM promotional stand.
“I don’t want people who want to build unable to do so because they can’t find the sites they want.
“That’s an offer to anyone in this room – if you’re struggling to find sites you [can] come talk to me and I’ll try and do something about it,” he said.
Barwell told developers he wanted to be “clear and unequivocal” he was there to help them build the hundreds of thousands of new homes to help fix to help fix the UK’s housing crisis.
The government, he said, was committed to building more homes releasing enough land for around 160,000 new properties.
Britain has its biggest ever presence at MIPIM this year with London, Manchester, Leeds, the Midlands and dozens of other regions and local authorities hosting stands to tempt investment from global developers and investment funds.
Barwell said he wanted to “change the politics” of housebuilding so local people did not automatically protest at the suggestion of new build – warning of “hard discussions” with local politicians who held up development.
The carrot would be housebuilding projects that came with fresh infrastructure investments to allow communities to cope with additional residents.
But more, he said, needed to be done to ensure newbuild homes were of good quality and design.
“People welcome homes that are really innovative in design, or fit in with the local area,” he said. “What they don’t like are homes that look like they could have been plonked down in any area of the country.”