There has been widespread scepticism from many within the industry that the government will miss its latest house building targets, despite announcements at the Tory party conference of a string of new initiatives.
The digital editor of industry publication Property Week, Samuel Horti, wrote on Twitter: “I wish the government would abandon this ridiculous one million homes target. They’re setting themselves up for failure.”
He also said the specific near-term targets announced at the conference by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid were small. “Accelerated building aims to provide 15,000 new homes by 2021. Tiny proportion of demand...”
Meanwhile housing market analyst and buying agent Henry Pryor, also on on social media, wrote: “15,000 is a drop in the ocean. He’s [Javid’s] nearly taking the p*ss. You need to be more ambitious!”
Of the one million target, Pryor said: “Too ambitious, risks credibility [and] ridicule as it did for David Cameron and Brandon Lewis before him.”
Adam Challis, head of residential research at JLL, joined the Twitter debate by suggesting the government would miss that one million target by between 200,000 and 250,000. “Would rather focus on right programmes than big targets” he wrote.
However, Savills’ housing analyst Neal Hudson tweeted that: “Just to be different, I reckon government has a decent chance of hitting its target of one million new homes by 2020, assuming no recession etc.”
Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents, said his organisation strongly supported the new measures but had concerns over delivery.
“Maybe this is also the time to be building on greenfield sites, as we have been calling for this for some time. We believe it is the only way that we will be able to deliver the number of houses that we really need to meet demand and help first time buyers on to the housing ladder” he said.
“It’s all very well releasing land and providing the finance to build new homes, but if the infrastructure and labour isn’t there to turn bricks and mortar into homes, it simply won’t be do-able. We now need the detail and clearer plans on how this will work in practice" said Hayward.
There was a neutral response to the government’s targets and initiatives from Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation. In a prepared statement he said: “The industry has increased housing supply significantly in recent years but innovative thinking is required if we are to deliver the number of homes the country needs. Moves to speed up how quickly builders can get onto sites, to bring more land forward more quickly and to incentivise new entrants will undoubtedly help increase output further.”