In the lead up to the 2017 General Election, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) published their ‘Election Manifesto’, a blueprint setting out step-changes to address the long-term undersupply of new homes.
The HBF sets out five objectives to deliver further capacity in the market:
1. Supporting the expansion in the number of providers building homes
Included within these proposals are steps by which to encourage small and medium sized developers into the delivery of new homes. This includes:
- The introduction of a presumption in favour of sustainable development on suitable brownfield sites within settlement boundaries;
- Planning for a wider range of sites within local plans including smaller parcels of land to support SME’s;
- Test the ongoing delivery of housing in a local area with opportunities to allocate additional ‘top up’ sites to meet local needs;
- Alter the definition of small sites from 10 to 25 or 30 homes;
- Change the classification of garden land to allow sustainable, low density schemes on under-utilised sites.
2. Ensuring the industry has access to skilled labour needed to sustain continued growth
It is proposed that the next Government should ensure that people and skills are available for the industry as well as supporting the Home Building Skills Partnership.
3. Planning for the future of the successful help to buy equity loan scheme
Support for securing the future of the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme beyond it’s the end date of March 2021 alongside a more targeted approach and focus on those areas most impacted by housing land supply shortages.
4. Tackling outstanding planning problems
Address excessive pre-commencement conditions and erroneous conditions applied to planning permissions which results in delaying project starts. A new phased approach to planning application fees is also supported as a means of addressing the lack of capacity and funding at Local Authorities.
5. Addressing problems caused by monopoly providers of infrastructure and utilities.
This approach needs to be realigned to prioritise housing in future infrastructure investment opportunities. The timing, delivery and consistency of service level agreements with infrastructure and utility providers needs to be improved.
The HBF has set out these measures to build further capacity in the industry and in planning departments, to maintain support for first-time buyers and expand the number of providers building homes. The next government, working with the industry, will need to work together to deliver 240,000 net additional homes per year in England and 12,000 homes in Wales.