Garden towns cash boost won’t solve housing problem, say experts

by: Christine Toner
  • 05/10/2017
  • 0
Garden towns cash boost won’t solve housing problem, say experts
The government's cash boost for the garden town initiative is a step in the right direction but does not impact the real problems affecting the housing market, experts have warned.

Earlier this week the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announced plans to inject £2.5m into the garden towns initiative to speed up the delivery of over 155,000 new homes across England.

Steve Larkin (pictured), director of development finance at LendInvest welcomed the move but said it would not impact some of the main causes of the housing crisis.

He said: “Putting more money into local authorities to ensure they are better equipped and faster to respond to planning applications and get developers building sooner is an important move and the right thing to do. We need to put an end to the log-jams and bottlenecks that are slowing down the effort to put more homes on streets.

“This one measure in isolation won’t solve the problem, but it’s a positive and proactive move by DCLG, the likes of which we want to see more of,” he added.

 

Drop in the ocean

Ashley Ilsen, head of lending at Regentsmead called the move a “drop in the ocean” for what the government and the various legislating bodies could be doing to help ease the housing shortage.

“There’s no doubt that garden towns and garden villages help provide a high volume solution to a lack of housing, however this doesn’t really solve the issue of affordability,” Ilsen said.

“While in theory these developments should benefit from economies of scale, these advantages are scarcely passed on to the end user. If the government was able to provide more incentives then there is potential for these schemes to be highly successful. The garden town and garden village options could purportedly offer another 220,000 new homes towards the housing deficit, however my experience of such government backed schemes is that they usually fall at the first hurdle.

“I would like to see more information on feasibility carried out on such schemes, with perhaps a higher focus on building in areas with good commuter links to London,” he added.

 

Small step

Steven Court, master broker of Promise Specialist Lending, agreed, noting the move is “clearly a small step in the right direction to aid the housing crisis”.
He added: “That said, critics will say it is nothing more than a gesture as the number of homes being constructed is not increasing and the lack of a declared time saving benefit to the announcement is a worry.”

Following the DCLG’s announcement nine locally-led garden town developments, from Bicester to Taunton, will each receive new funding to fast track the build out of large housing projects.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said garden towns will not just provide housing but also “bring new jobs and facilities and a big boost to local economies.”

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