The plans offer smaller building firms the scope to build on government sites where planning permission is already in place, with up to 40% of the new-builds quota earmarked for affordable starter homes.
Cameron said: “Today’s package signals a huge shift in government policy. Nothing like this has been done on this scale in three decades – government rolling its sleeves up and directly getting homes built.
Backed up with a further £1.2bn to get homes built on brownfield sites, it shows we will do everything we can to get Britain building and let more people have the security that comes with a home of their own.”
Government figures suggest the top eight house builders provide 50% of new homes. The direct commissioning approach will support smaller builders and new entrants who are ready to build but lack the resources and access to land, it said.
The pilot for direct commissioning on publicly owned land will start in five sites in the south and south east:
• Connaught Barracks in Dover
• Northstowe in Cambridgeshire
• Lower Graylingwell in Chichester
• Daedelus on Waterfront in Gosport
• Old Oak Common in north west London
The government said: “This will fast-track the creation of at least 30,000 new starter homes and up to 30,000 market homes on 500 new sites by 2020 – helping deliver the commitment to create 200,000 starter homes over the next five years.”
Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: “When it comes to building new homes, the availability of small sites is the single biggest barrier to SME house builders increasing their output.
Any measures that the government can introduce that will increase the number of small sites suitable for SME house builders will help address the housing shortfall.
“It is also encouraging that the majority of these sites will already have planning permission in place as obtaining permission is all-too-often a lengthy and protracted process – avoiding this time delay should help house builders increase their supply much more quickly.”
A starter home is a home sold to a first time buyer under 40, for at least a 20% discount to market value. In London, the maximum cost of a qualifying home will be set at £450,000; outside London it will be £250,000.
House Builder’s Federation, executive chairman Stewart Baseley, said homebuilding rates have been increasing at the steepest rates for decades and welcomed the move but said the ‘devil was in the detail.’
If we are to address the chronic shortage of homes that has developed over decades, strong Government leadership is essential. Allowing smaller builders to access publicly-owned sites is a welcome move that must be part of wider set of measures to assist SME builders and get more ‘players on the pitch.’
He added: “A lower-risk model could allow larger builders to increase their output still further, while also enabling smaller house builders to increase output. Both have an essential role to play. It is not a question of either/or.”
The shadow minister for housing and planning, John Healey, said today’s statement promises no new starter homes beyond those already announced.
Speaking to The Guardian, he said: “In the autumn statement a few weeks ago, George Osborne tried to spin his halving of public housing investment as an increase. Now David Cameron is laying on the rhetoric to hide his failure on new homes.
“With home ownership down to the lowest level in a generation and fewer homes built over the last five years than under any peacetime government since the 1920s, David Cameron needs to do much more to fix his five years of failure on housing.”