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Group calls for diversity of developers to meet government housing pledges

Words: Huw Morris

Government ambitions to ‘build back better’ cannot only rely on volume housebuilders – a much wider group of housing developers is needed to deliver its aims, says an industry group.

Housing Diversification calls on the government to boost small and medium (SME) housebuilders and to support different housing providers including custom, self-build and community-led organisations to unlock up to 130,000 homes.

The group, which comprises the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA), the Federation of Master Builders, the UK Co-housing Network and the National Community Land Trust Network, says the housing sector needs diversity, starting with a special task force to probe issues that limit growth.

It contends that volume housebuilders and the housing association sector deliver most of England’s housing but are not able to deliver government ambitions for 300,000 homes a year.

The umbrella group also points out that the number of SME housebuilders halved following the last recession and “we must avoid a repeat of this as we scale up housing delivery in 2021”. The SME sector, comprising small housebuilders, community-led housing and custom and self-builders, is currently delivering a minimum of 20,000 homes annually, but it has the potential to deliver up to 130,000 extra homes by 2025.

“Despite the importance of houses to our lives and the scale of their cost, there is currently too little choice when it comes to new homes in this country,” said Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, NaCSBA chief executive and spokesperson for the group.

“We have come together as Housing Diversification to deliver more passion, quality, and care into the new homes and the new communities that we, as a nation, need to be creating. Just like any other market, increasing diversification will improve quality, innovation, and value. We will deliver homes more people want to live in and that more welcome being built.”

The group calls for the government to commit to a five-year renewal of the Community Housing Fund as part of the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. It also wants to see a “robust and statutory system of reporting” on diversification as part of government housing statistics, including the National Planning Policy Framework requirement for 10 per cent of homes to be delivered on small sites of one hectare or less.

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