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Housing targets in ‘jeopardy’ as PM calls for better quality new homes

  • 26/06/2019
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Housing targets in ‘jeopardy’ as PM calls for better quality new homes
The government’s ambitions of building 300,000 new homes a year by the middle of the next decade are in ‘jeopardy’ according to a new report by the Public Affairs Committee.

In a new report, it warned of “inherent problems” in the planning system, and noted that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government does not have a “detailed implementation plan” for how it will actually scale-up housebuilding.

The report stated that while a ‘plan-led system’, where local authorities help shape what development takes place in their area through their own local plans, is welcome, too many authorities are struggling to produce them or keep them up to date, while the department is dallying over taking action to spur them on.

The committee also cautioned that local authorities are struggling to negotiate with developers over helping to cover the cost of the supporting infrastructure needed around new housing developments.

Meg Hillier MP, chair of the committee, said that there was “no clear rationale” for the 300,000 figure, given the department itself had said only 265,000 new homes a year were needed.

She added: “Government needs to get a grip and set out a clear plan if it is not to jeopardise these ambitions. Poor performance by the Planning Inspectorate in reviewing appeals has also added to delays. There is also a collective failure to ensure developers contribute fairly for infrastructure.”

In the report ‒ titled Planning and the broken housing market ‒ the committee makes a host of recommendations.

These include tasking the department with setting out, in a single publicly-available document, the full set of actions it is taking in order to hit its target and include year-on-year projections for the number it expects to be built.

In addition, by the end of the year the department should detail what interventions it will make when local authorities fail to produce local plans for housebuilding, alongside detailed actions and milestones for improving the performance of the planning inspectorate.

Building better homes

The report comes as the Prime Minister is due to give a speech today calling for new design laws to ensure new homes are built to a higher standard.

Speaking to the Chartered Institute of Housing conference, Theresa May is expected to call for new regulations forcing developers to build higher-quality housing, noting that not all authorities make ‘National Described Space Standards’ a condition of granting planning permission.

This is leading to “tenants and buyers facing a postcode lottery”, according to the Prime Minister, which would be fixed if these regulations were mandatory across the country.

She will say: “I cannot defend a system in which owners and tenants are forced to accept tiny homes with inadequate storage, where developers feel the need to fill show homes with deceptively small furniture, and where the lack of universal standards encourages a race to the bottom.”

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