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Portals hit out at lack of details over pledges for new homes

There’s been some cynicism amongst the industry in response to new homes promises made by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in yesterday’s Budget.

Sunak claimed there would be up to 180,000 affordable homes  built on brownfield sites as part of a “multi-year housing settlement” of nearly £24 billion - the largest cash investment in a decade. 

Some £11.5bn of these funds will go towards the construction of affordable homes, with the focus trained on developing brownfield sites.

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Sunak told the Commons: “We are investing more in housing and homeownership with a multi-year settlement totalling nearly £24 billion. The government will provide £11.5 billion to build up to the 180,000 new, affordable homes the country needs annually, 20 per cent larger than the previous programme. We are investing an extra £1.8 billion, enough to bring 1,500 hectares of brownfield land into use, meet our commitment to invest £10 billion in new housing and unlock a million new homes.”

However, Rightmove wants details.

The portal’s property expert Miles Shipside says: “Competition among buyers for homes available for sale is at the highest level ever recorded over the past twenty years, so building enough new homes to satisfy demand is critical to prevent further heady price rises. 

“We’re still waiting to hear about more areas that will benefit from the First Homes Scheme, which launched with a couple of properties back in June, so we hope to hear more detail, and soon, on the areas that will benefit from the 180,000 affordable homes pledged today.”

Zoopla’s director of new homes - Alex Rose - comments: “With £300m of this funding designated to metro mayors and councils to unlock smaller brownfield sites for housing, it is unclear how the balance of the funding will be allocated. With housebuilders often viewing brownfield sites as a less attractive option due to risks like contamination, it remains to be seen how far this investment will stretch in practice."

Knight Frank also appears to be sceptical.

Anna Ward, senior research analyst at the agency, says “The government’s confirmation of a £1.8 billion brownfield fund will help alleviate some of the impact of the pandemic on new homes output. As ever, the devil will be in the detail. 

“There are questions marks over how quickly this can be rolled out and which areas it will target to help ease housing shortages.”

And Savills’ senior research analyst, Lawrence Bowles, says: “The government leaked news of the £1.8 billion funding for brownfield housing development earlier in the week. This works out at £11,250 per home.

“… Whether this funding will be enough to meaningfully shift development focus where previous governments have failed to implement brownfield-first policies remains to be seen, and it is unclear how the funding will deliver the significant number of new homes needed.”

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