MFB: We need second housing bill

Sarah Davidson

May 26, 2015

He said: “One real danger from today’s announcements could be an eagle-eyed focus homeownership at the expense of other tenures.

“A homeowning society of Grand Designs would be ideal – but in reality people often need homes they can afford near their place of work. So the government must ensure that any pledge to replace housing association properties sold off through Right to Buy actually happens – and shouldn’t overlook the role of the burgeoning private rented sector.

“Equally, new homes are the solution to most of the UK’s property problems, but planning isn’t the only building bottleneck. Finance matters too – and has been in scarce supply for the best part of a decade. Specialist lenders with the know-how and the imagination to support property development schemes are making excellent returns and supporting vital new homes. But they are the tiniest minority compared to the main bulk of the mortgage machine lending against the understandable safety of existing property.”

Whittaker said confidence is the biggest factor holding back a “tide of potential” and added the government “can’t magic up optimism overnight”.

He said “Even established developers need to feel particularly entrepreneurial to take on a decent-sized development project – and their financial backers will need at least as much convincing. The new government should be preparing for a long slog on the housing front. One Housing Bill won’t be enough.”

Earlier today communities secretary Greg Clark MP revealed the government will announce “landmark changes” to spread home ownership to millions in the Queen’s Speech tomorrow.

The government said its “ground-breaking” housing bill will include legislation to extend Right to Buy to 1.3 million housing association tenants and Right to Build, a policy designed to boost housebuilding.

Both policies were trailed as part of the Conservative’s manifesto pledges in the run up to May’s general election.

But brokers were sceptical. Andrew Montlake, director of Coreco, said: “Given the fact that historically speaking the Right To Buy scheme, whilst successful for those participating, has not led to an increase or even a like-for-like replacement of social housing, I find it difficult to believe that this time will be any different and could further put strain on affordable housing.

“Again, there seems to be no long-term, carefully thought out strategy to make sure that land, planning and building are all aligned and controlled by a central, fixed-term minister at the very top table of government to deliver the number of housing starts we need. At best these policies amount to putting a plaster over a gaping wound.”

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