The government has signalled that it is going to publish a housing White Paper later this year with “significant measures” to accelerate house building, believed to include more modular construction and government partnering with private investors.
Chancellor Philip Hammond and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid have told the Tory party conference that a £3 billion Home Building Fund to provide loans to deliver more than 25,000 homes by 2020 and over 200,000 homes in the longer term.
The ministers also announced extra borrowing of £2 billion to speed up housing construction, much of it aimed at small and medium-sized developers. This ‘accelerated construction’ scheme will aim to get houses built on publicly-owned brownfield land, particularly around railway stations and other transport hubs.
However, despite the expectation of some pundits, no explicit reference was made to building on Green Belt land.
Javid told delegates they had a “moral duty” to address the housing shortage. In a speech warning both NIMBYS and developers alike he said: “The big developers must release their stranglehold ... it’s time to stop sitting on land.”
He continued: “We’ve made great progress fixing the broken housing market we inherited from Labour, but now is the time to go further. We want to ensure everyone has a safe and secure place to live and that means we’ve got to build more homes”.
“It is only by building more houses that we will alleviate the financial burden on those who are struggling to manage.”
Hammond added: “We’ll use all the tools at our disposal to accelerate housebuilding and ensure that over time, housing becomes more affordable, that is why we are committing £2 billion of additional investment towards this.”
Meanwhile housing minister Gavin Barwell is reported to have said he will end the focus on promoting home ownership and give the rental sector increased emphasis.
Estates Gazette, reporting from a fringe event at the Conservative conference, says Barwell told the meeting: “The budget I inherited is very heavily focused on shared ownership, with a bit of money for rent to buy and supported housing but no new funding for affordable rent.
“And I am actually having a much more flexible approach, where we say to people bidding for those funds, what is the maximum number of homes and mixed tenure?”
He added: “I reject these false choices we have had in the past where it is homes to buy or homes to rent. I need more homes for sale, I need more shared ownership, I need more homes for private rent and I need more sub-market rent. And I want all of it, as much as possible of all of it.”