The housebuilding industry has welcomed the measures announced by communities secretary Sajid Javid aimed at increasing new homes supply. Hopefully this will be good news for all areas of the building industry.
“Moves to speed up the planning process, bring more land forward more quickly and assist small developers are exactly what the industry has been telling government is needed and should build on the increases of recent years,” said the Home Builders Federation.
Measures announced today include the launch of a £3 billion Home Builders Fund which will provide £1 billion of short term loan funding for small builders, custom builders, and innovators, aimed at delivering 25,500 homes by 2020. This is an increase of £325 million over the previous commitment through the £525 million Builders Finance fund and the £150m Build to Rent fund - these will now be incorporated within the new combined fund.
The fund will also provide £2 billion of long term funding for infrastructure aimed at unlocking a pipeline of up to 200,000 homes over the longer term – with the emphasis on developments on brownfield land. HBF said that £1.2 billion of this £2 billion had been previously announced as the Large Sites Infrastructure Fund in 2015.
Javid also announced an “Accelerated Construction” programme paid for through £2 billion of new public sector net borrowing – this will be used to address “failures in the market”. The government aims to use surplus public land to build faster, encouraging new developers with different models into housebuilding, and to support SMEs.
The government will partner with new entrants, SMEs, custom builders and offsite manufacturers that it hopes can build out sites quicker than a large developer might.
The announcement also focused on proposed changes to the planning system. While there is a focus on bringing forward brownfield sites for redevelopment there is no return to a “brownfield first” strategy, either explicit or implied.
The government also says it intends to “strengthen national planning policy to create a “de facto” presumption in favour of housing on suitable brownfield land and to drive up density levels in high demand areas while ensuring that developments are well-designed and respect the character of the local area”
Speaking today, Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation said of these announcements: "Even after the huge increases in housing supply over the past few years we are some way short of building the number of homes the country needs. Housebuilders are still stifled by planning delays that prevent them getting on sites and delivering homes more quickly. Efforts to address this and remove some of the many barriers that new entrants face when trying make it into the industry and build new homes will undoubtedly help to boost housing output.
“Most of the big increases in supply in recent years have been driven by the largest house builders who have significantly boosted investment in land and skills. If we are to get to the level of supply required we need to see more players on the pitch. We need to enable small builders to play more of a part as well as facilitating more of a contribution from other sources.”