LBG calls for cross party housing solution

Ryan Fowler

January 28, 2015

The call follows the launch of an independent report by the Lloyds Banking Group Commission on Housing at the House of Commons, which sets out a roadmap towards the sustained supply of good quality new homes.

The aim of the commission is to generate cross-party agreement on key policy areas which could make a significant difference in providing greater levels of new homes.

Headline recommendations of the report are for a revitalised SME home-builders sector and custom/self-build sector, a new professional rental sector backed by institutional investors, with more secure, longer-term tenancy agreements and a duty placed on all public sector bodies to review land holdings and assess the case for the disposal of surplus for the purpose of new homes.

Additionally it calls for a review of the balance between public expenditure on new homes and housing benefits that help to pay rents, strategic plans to provide clarity to Local Planning Authorities on the number of new homes needed and meaningful public engagement which informs local communities of both the need and benefits of more high quality homes.

Former housing minister Mark Prisk, MP, co-chair, Lloyds Banking Group Commission on Housing, said: “The UK housing market is facing a range of interlocking problems relating to the general shortage and quality of new homes being built.

“These will not be solved without a determined and sustained programme supported by all political parties, and we intend this report to be the spur to give this issue the priority it needs.”

And Nick Raynsford, MP, also a former housing minister and co-chair, Lloyds Banking Group Commission on Housing, said: “The Commission was convened to identify the key policy responses necessary to generate a higher, more sustainable level of housing production in the UK. Crucially, this report does not revisit issues previously raised in other reports, but has focused on a number of key areas which could make a significant difference.”

Other key recommendations in the Report are:

• Planning: the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) should not be significantly altered over the next decade. Government needs to ensure that all Local Authorities have local plans in place (currently 40% of districts do not have a Plan that has passed an examination).

• Strategic Planning should be introduced to address the small geographies of districts, to introduce better co-ordination of infrastructure delivery to match housing growth, and to ensure that properly planned areas of housing growth recognise the natural capacity of the area. These should be sub-regional – at ‘first tier’ council or ‘city region level – so as not to be too remote from local public engagement and to maintain democratic accountability for planning at a local level.

• Compulsory Purchase Orders: Greater clarity is needed on the rights of local authorities to use these to assemble large brownfield sites from smaller parcels in multiple ownership to stimulate brownfield regeneration.

• More long-term development partners: HM Treasury rules concerning ‘best value’ need to change to encourage government departments, NHS trusts, local authorities and other public bodies to become long-term development partners. Local authority bond guarantees should be matched to this land release until 2025.

• Clear targets for Local Authorities: over the time taken with S106 agreements and pre-commencement conditions. The difference between the best and the average can shave 18 months off the process from starting pre-applications to opening the first show house.

• Reform of the Construction Industry Training Board: In order to improve the operation of its levy on the industry and to improve the relevance and speed of the training it provides.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis said: “I welcome this report’s contribution to the debate, which makes clear that all parts of the housing industry must work together and continue to build the homes this country needs.

“It also recognises the progress we’ve made since 2010 to get the country building again, providing more homes and security for hardworking people.

“This includes the £525m Builders Finance Fund to kick-start stalled smaller sites, the billions we’ve invested in building new affordable homes, and the radical reforms to the planning system which has put power back into the hands of local people.”

Stephen Noakes, managing director – retail customer products, Lloyds Banking Group, and member of the Commission, added: “The report acknowledges that the challenges holding back the supply of good-quality new homes are multi-layered and as such there is no one single solution. Instead what is required is a sustained programme of measures and a long-term commitment to a wide variety of different types of developments.

“We are recommending a series of incremental changes which form an achievable framework for long-term housing affordability.

“This is a generational challenge, and we need to get to a sustainable level of house-building for a more prosperous Britain.”

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