This week the UK Government released its Housing White Paper detailing plans to overhaul and improve housing in the UK. The report breaks down the issues into four areas:
- Planning for the right homes in the right places
- Building homes faster
- Diversifying the market
- Helping people now
This document puts forward reforms in various areas from planning to social and affordable housing to land usage. Our founder and Director, Russell Midgley, was pleased with much of what was proposed:
“We’ve been hearing about radical housing reforms for years and years from past governments and new governments, none have been able to tackle the problem so far. The Housing White Paper, released yesterday, seems to set out some encouraging government crackdowns on local authorities and developers but time will tell whether Teresa May’s government can deliver. If the government follows through with intervention where needed, then we could finally start to see positive results.”
One of the key takeaways from the report is the crackdown on developers and local authorities who impede the house building process. This includes streamlining of the planning process and taking action against companies who buy up land, but leave it undeveloped in the hopes of selling it on for a higher price.
“We welcome a more streamlined process so developers can ‘get on and build’, there’s been many occasions where local authorities have been slow with planning applications, these can go on for 6 months, 8 months and even longer. This doesn’t help when we are 100,000 homes short every year.
Developers, who sit on land with planning in place, is a real problem – if the government go ahead and seize their land and auction it off, then i t gets a huge thumbs up from me. We see developers stalling, time and time again as property agents. They have a perfectly good site to sell, but they would rather sit on it and wait for the price of the land to increase and sell onto the highest bidder. This results in higher property prices for first time buyers and end users alike having to foot the bill. It’s the land owners and the developers who seem to be profiteering and the wider economy suffering.”
Another promising point was the encouragement of Build-To-Rent sector. The aim is to help create affordable private-rented housing for those unable to become (or uninterested in becoming) homeowners. With the possibility of three-year tenures also being consulted on, it is hoped this would enable people to find good quality, stable rental homes.
“The built-to-rent encouragement is fantastic, it’s time we had an affordable housing class where developers are forced to discount their prices. This is a huge positive in my view and seems similar to the student housing model we work with today. These are professionally managed, just like the proposed build-to-rent schemes, these developments can be built with private or institutional funding, quite quickly and provide brand new apartments, with amenities on site, communal space and even a concierge.
The investor would be looking for a long term rental income rather than the capital growth, it’s an income based model, like student property, so seeing a quality product at the end is highly likely along with a professional management company. Aspen Woolf have been talking about this model for a few years now, we’ve seen it work with student property and we’d love to see it work for the build-to-rent schemes.”
Overall, it would seem the government is keen to take positive steps to reforming the UK’s housing market, for the benefit of all. We at Aspen Woolf will certainly be keeping an eye on how effective they are in following through on these promises.
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