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UK Government pledges to build more homes more quickly to buy and rent

New measures to reduce the obstacles to new house building and improve affordability for buyers and tenants have been announced by the UK Government in a much awaited Housing White Paper.

The report reveals that more than a third of new homes that were granted planning permission between 2010/2011 and 2015/2016 have yet to be built and currently 40% of councils do not have an up to date housing demand plan.

At the heart of new housing and planning policies will be trying to ensure that the right kind of homes are built in the right places and more quickly. Councils will now be required to produce a realistic plan and review it at least every five years and expected to use land more efficiently by avoiding building homes at low density and building higher where there is a shortage of land and in locations well served by public transport such as train stations.

The Government will also make it easier for councils to issue completion notices, shortening the timescales to require developers to start building within two years instead of three when planning permission is granted.

To help people save for a home a new lifetime ISA will be introduced in April aimed at younger adults, giving them a 25% bonus on up to £4,000 of savings a year. Savings and the bonus can be put towards the purchase of a first home, or withdrawn once they reach the age of 60.

Planning rules will be amended so that councils can proactively plan for more long term Build to Rent homes and a consultation has been launched to allow developers to offer more affordable homes to rent alongside other forms of affordable housing.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid described the plans laid out in the white paper as ‘bold’ and said that the current system isn’t working and is one of the greatest barriers to progress in Britain today and the aim is to build more homes more quickly to buy and rent.

‘The housing market in this country is broken and the solution means building many more houses in the places that people want to live. We are setting out ambitious proposals to help fix the housing market so that more ordinary working people from across the country can have the security of a decent place to live. The only way to halt the decline in affordability and help more people onto the housing ladder is to build more homes,’ he added.

The document suggests that once councils have realistic plans it will be possible to make sure enough land is released for new homes to be built in the parts of the country where people want to live and work and ensure developments take heed of local people’s wishes, while continuing with maximum protections for the green belt.

The new rules will also result in greater transparency and information from developers on their pace of delivery of new housing so councils can consider this when planning their local need. ‘This will help address the serious and growing gap between the number of planning permissions granted and the number of new homes completed,’ the paper says.

There will also be action to help small independent builders enter the market through the £3 billion Home Building Fund. Currently around 60% of new homes are built by just 10 companies and the fund aims to provide loans for SME builders, custom builders, offsite construction and essential infrastructure.

Help for aspiring first time buyers will continue through Government backed home ownership schemes and the new ISA aims to help young people save over a longer term. It will be made clear through the National Planning Policy Framework that starter homes, like shared ownership homes, should be available to households that need them most, those with an income of less than £80,000 or £90,000 in London.

Overall, it says the Government is committed to building more affordable homes to boost house building and support households who are locked out of the market. The 2016 to 2021 Affordable Homes Programme was originally designed to focus on delivering shared ownership but that is now being opened up with a relaxation of restrictions on funding so providers can build a range of homes including for affordable rent.

Councils are to be encouraged to plan for more long term Build to Rent homes the Government wants to see longer tenancies available in private rented schemes to provide more stability to families renting.