Updates from the Government’s New Housing White Paper

Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2017

With what Property Week are calling “radical reforms”, the Government has just released their housing white paper, focusing on development, planning, and construction. 

The government says at least 250,000 new homes are needed each year to keep pace with demand and are aiming to put pressure on developers to deliver these homes.

As part of the aims of the paper, the government has vowed to create more affordable housing as well as helping people buy and rent, after admitting the current market is "broken".

The focus on the structure of developers and house builders in the UK and the value placed on land is a key issue. The white paper has outlined that developers that do not build out sites where they have planning permission will have their land seized by local authorities. It will give councils powers to pressurise developers to start building on land they own. The government will also target local authorities that are not enabling developments to go ahead.

For renters, the government announced a range of measures aimed at encouraging the build-to-rent (BTR) sector. They want to make renting more "family-friendly" with longer tenancies offered.

Their plans include creating a separate affordable housing class for BTR, called affordable private rent. This will require developers to deliver at least 20% of developments at a 20% discount on market levels. The government will also make it easier for developers to offer affordable private rented homes and also allow local authorities to proactively plan for BTR schemes.

For starter homes, the criteria for developments has reduced from 20% to 10%. Any starter homes will now only be available to those buying with a mortgage, as opposed to cash, and a household income of less than £80,000, or £90,000 in London.

Other measures also included:

  •             Forcing councils to produce an up-to-date plan for housing demand
  •             Expecting developers to avoid "low-density" housing where land availability is short
  •             Encouraging the extension of buildings upwards in urban areas
  •             Reducing the time allowed between planning permission and the start of building from three to two years
  •             Using a £3bn fund to help smaller building firms challenge major developers, including support for off-site construction, where parts of buildings are assembled in a factory
  •             A "lifetime ISA" to help first-time buyers save for a deposit
  •             Maintaining protection for the green belt, which can only be built on "in exceptional circumstances"
  •             Introducing banning orders "to remove the worst landlords or agents from operating"
  •             Banning letting agents' fees