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Earlier consideration of Build to Rent will help a ‘growing’ mid-market housing need

Councils and developers should work together at an earlier stage to speed up the delivery of purpose-built private rented homes, says a new guide.

Built To Rent: A Best Practice Guide, said publisher Urban Land Institute (ULI), “pools ideas and best practice to better inform” developers, architects, consultants and local councils.

Its aim is to create a greater understanding of how Build to Rent differs from regular housing and how this needs to be recognised when forming policy.

The guide, said ULI, does welcome progress made in updating planning guidance to accommodate Build to Rent, but also warns that the planning system “remains geared too much” towards delivering homes for market sale.

Alex Notay, policy director for ULI UK, said: “The Build to Rent sector has, in many respects, developed more rapidly that the planning and valuation framework within which it sits. The guide is intended to support development of this framework focusing on both strategic planning and ensuring viability of individual schemes.”

Richard Meier, partner at Argent and chairman of ULI’s UK Residential Council, said Build to Rent has the potential to serve a “significant proportion” of housing need, catering for those in between ownership and affordable housing.

“This ‘silent majority’ may be more focused on work or simply enjoying their lives, and by supporting Build to Rent, we can promote myriad benefits socially and economically,” he said.

The guide also warns that current regulations for Community Infrastructure Levy and the provision of affordable housing may act as a “roadblock” to Build to Rent unless investors and planners are “prepared to take a flexible approach around development levies”.

Richard Blyth, head of policy at the RTPI, said: “While expanding the private rented sector is a valuable goal, great care should be taken not to assume the only way this can be achieved is by “flexibility” regarding developer contributions. There should equally be flexibility regarding land prices, including but not exclusively where public land is concerned. An earlier report by the Investment Property Forum recognised the dual role of developer contributions and land prices.”

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