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28/05/2015

Housing bill welcome, but more needs to be done

Words: Laura Edgar
Houses / iStock_000024561120

The government’s focus on boosting housing supply through a housing bill has been welcomed by planning industry professionals, but more needs to be done to enable builders “to build the homes of tomorrow”.

In the Queen’s Speech it was confirmed that housing association tenants would be able to buy their own home through the Right to Buy scheme.

Additionally, the housing bill aims to increase the supply of starter homes for first-time buyers under the age of 40 as well as introduce a brownfield land register.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, welcomed the move, but said there is a long way to go in building the number of homes the country needs.

“The planning process still takes too long to navigate, which is detrimental to the prospects of small and medium-sized builders in particular. We need to reduce barriers to entry, cut out unnecessary bureaucracy and get more builders building the homes of tomorrow,” he told The Planner.

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation (BPF), expressed concerns about the starter homes initiative. “The starter homes initiative holds potential, but we have questions around the realities of delivery and whether there will be sufficient infrastructure provision on the allocated sites.”

She said the focus on brownfield land is positive, however, Leech harbours doubts about how much suitable land would come to market.

Iceni Project executive director Ian Anderson said that, as previous governments have shown, “delivering new housing supply is not easy”.

Rather than reworking old policy, Anderson wished to see a full rethink on the “real barriers” to development. This, he said, has to include a proper acknowledgement from government that releasing less valuable green belt land “is required in order to tackle the housing crisis”.

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