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1.2 million homes need to be built to close the housing gap

The UK housing market is facing grave challenges, according to a recent, in-depth report by the BBC. The Housing Brief points to a figure of a 1.2-million gap of new homes needed to accommodate everyone who currently needs a home. The inability to get on, or progress up the housing ladder is hardly just due to people’s inability to find the best mortgage rate or save up for a deposit.

A 2019 study by Heriot-Watt University estimates that closing this housing gap would take about 15 years at current building rates – and that’s provided that nothing changes, for example that the population doesn’t suddenly expand, or that private building firms don’t build less housing than they do now.

The number of new dwellings added to the UK housing market stood at 275,000 last year, but, as the report explains, this by itself might not be enough to resolve the UK housing crisis by 2030. The current household growth forecast suggests that, even if we are to close the current housing gap in 15 years’ time, by 2035, we will once again have a housing shortage of four million homes. Besides, there is no guarantee that building new homes per se will make them suitable for people’s needs, especially where it comes to affordability.

The lack of new social housing being built is hitting families at risk of homelessness particularly hard: councils are struggling to find suitable accommodation for the increasing number of people struggling to rent privately, with the number of homeless families in the UK standing at 140,000. Only 5,000 of them are rough sleepers, with the rest sleeping in shelters, on friends’ sofas, and in temporary accommodation.

The recommendation of the report is clear: the government can increase housing supply by funding local councils to build more social housing. It also suggests that subsidising private developers could incentivise them to build more affordable housing – although similar schemes in the past haven’t yielded the expected results.

A number of other recommendations from think tanks and research bodies are collected in the report, many of them pointing to the need for regulating private development, the need for further schemes to help young people onto the property ladder, and increasing housing benefit for those struggling to rent privately.


Source: Real Homes

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More than a million homes could be built on brownfield land – campaigners

More than a million homes could be built on brownfield land, helping to meet housing demand and regenerate towns and cities, campaigners say.

A new analysis of councils’ brownfield land registers by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) suggests there is space for a million homes on suitable sites which were previously built on and now sit derelict or vacant.

Two-thirds of the potential new homes are on sites which are “shovel ready” and are deliverable within five years, so they could make an immediate contribution to meeting housing need, the analysis suggests.

CPRE argues that prioritising the brownfield land which councils have shown is suitable for development will provide more homes and transform run-down areas.

And it will prevent the unnecessary loss of countryside and greenfield sites for housing, the campaign group said.

With more than 120,000 potential new homes added to the registers across England in the last year alone, brownfield land could continue to provide a steady pipeline of new housing, CPRE said.

Building on brownfield land presents a fantastic opportunity to simultaneously remove local eyesores and breathe new life into areas crying out for regeneration

Rebecca Pullinger, CPRE

But it warned that the definition of the land available for residential development for the registers may be missing opportunities to make better use of existing developed sites – meaning more homes could be provided.

And the assumptions for the density of housing on a site are low, so that increasing the number of properties built on brownfield could help councils make the best use of the space and deliver more homes, the charity said.

The analysis shows 18,277 sites identified across the country with 1,077,292 potential new homes – of which 634,750 homes are deliverable within five years.

London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield have identified suitable previously-developed land which could provide almost half a million homes.

CPRE is calling for the Government to introduce a genuine “brownfield first” policy which ensures suitable previously-developed or under-used land is prioritised for housing over green spaces and countryside.

And clearer definitions and guidelines are needed for the registers to be a better pipeline of sites, identifying all brownfield areas and recording their suitability for uses other than housing, including protecting their wildlife or heritage value where appropriate, it urged.

Rebecca Pullinger, planning campaigner at CPRE, said: “Building on brownfield land presents a fantastic opportunity to simultaneously remove local eyesores and breathe new life into areas crying out for regeneration.

“It will help to limit the amount of countryside lost to development, and build more homes in areas where people want to live, with infrastructure, amenities and services already in place.”

She added: “Councils have worked hard to identify space suitable for more than one million new homes.

“But until we have a brownfield first approach to development, and all types of previously developed land are considered, a large number of sites that could be transformed into desperately needed new homes will continue to be overlooked.

“The Government, local councils and house builders must work hard to bring these sites forward for development and get building.”

Housing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “This Government is committed to building the homes our country needs while still leaving the environment in a better state than we found it.

“We’re encouraging planners to prioritise building on brownfield land and working with local authorities to ensure sensible decisions are made on where homes get built.”

Source: iTV

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UK property undersupply highlighted by new £1bn government investment

In partnership with Barclays Bank, the UK government has announced a ten-figure loan to help support small and medium-sized property developers to build close to the 300,000 new homes per year targets suggest the UK needs.


  • UK government and Barclays Bank have announced a new £1 billion loan to support British property developers in delivering more new homes
  • Up to £100 million will be made available to each developer, as the government aims to meet its targets of bringing 300,000 new homes to the market each year
  • Rising demand for rental homes is driving rents up in key investment cities

Does this highlight the huge undersupply of property in the UK?

As demand continues to outstrip availability, the UK government and Barclays Bank have announced a new £1 billion finance deal to help support small and medium-sized developers in the country build more homes.

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire hailed the opportunity as another important step in “giving smaller builders access to the finance they need to get housing developments off the ground”.

The Housing Delivery Fund will be overseen by the government’s Homes England delivery agency and will help to open up the housing market to a greater share of property developers. As much as £100 million will be made available to developers able to demonstrate the necessary track record and experience in delivering the type of properties today’s homeowners and tenants demand. This includes purpose-built apartments for rent.

Brokenshire added: “This is a fantastic opportunity to not only get more homes built, but also to promote new and innovative approaches to construction and design that exist across the housing market.”

John McFarlane, Barclays’ Chairman, commented: “There is a vital need to build more good quality homes across the country.  This £1 billion fund is about helping to do exactly that by showing firms in the business of house building that the right finance is available for projects that help meet this urgent need.”

Government targets dictate that the UK needs to build 300,000 new homes each year by the mid-2020’s to meet the rising demand for property across all sectors of the market.

In the private rented sector, traditional buy-to-let homes can no longer meet the needs of the UK’s rising number of younger tenants; those that demand experience living in prime city centre locations.

Source: Select Property

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New council homes set to ease waiting list woe in Nuneaton and Bedworth

More council homes are set to be built across Nuneaton and Bedworth in a bid to ease the ever-growing waiting list.

Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council has, unlike many other authorities across the country, been forging ahead with plans to build more council homes.

As a result, it has been awarded what is known as full Investment Partner status by Homes England, a public body sponsored by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

With the title comes a grant of £120,000, which the council is using to build more affordable homes, including a new project in Bedworth.

New council homes in Bedworth

The council’s latest build programme is at Ashington Road, Bedworth, where there will be four new two-bedroom homes.

New modern methods of construction are being piloted which means they will be ready for occupation far faster than traditional brick build, helping the council to meet the notoriously high level of demand for affordable rented housing across the two towns.

‘Significant achievement’

Councillor Dennis Harvey, Town Hall leader, said: “This is fantastic news – it is a real vote of confidence in our experience and ability as a housing developer; few local authorities have been awarded full Investment Partner status by Homes England so this is a really significant achievement.

“The assessment team were really impressed by our strong track record in the delivery of new housing and in the quality of the recent programmes at Abbey Street and Kings View.

“Full Investment Partner status means that we’re considered to be a safe pair of hands in building houses and as such, we have been given certain privileges and better access to grant funding.

“This allows us to better serve our residents by meeting the demand for good quality affordable new rental homes within the borough.”

Source: Coventry Telegraph

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500 council homes to be built across Sandwell

Five hundred new council homes will be built in a borough over the next three years as part of a major investment to boost the housing stock.

Sandwell Council will embark on one of the biggest council house building projects in years in a bid to tackle its growing waiting list.

Bosses said housing was among their main priorities, with £70 million to be ploughed into new developments until 2021.

Extensions to existing council properties are also planned.

CCTV could also be rolled out at high-rise blocks as part of the improvements in a bid to tackle antisocial behaviour.

The authority is also planning to create hundreds of school places over the coming years to deal with the borough’s rising population.

Some council house projects are already in the pipeline, including plans for 63 properties in Strathmore Road and Henn Street, Tipton, and another 50 in Friar Park, Wednesbury.

Wednesbury councillor Peter Hughes said the housebuilding programme was a signal of the council’s intent to improve living standards.

He said: “It has been decades since local authorities have built to the extent that we are.

“Sandwell is probably leading the way in terms of local authority social house building.

“There is a massive need for social housing. As a former housing manager myself I’m very much in favour of seeing house building take place. A lot of local authorities haven’t done it for some time.”

Councillor Hughes said despite the huge outlay on creating new homes, it would also prove beneficial for the council.

He said: “We will get an increase in council tax and we will also get the new homes bonus coming in which is quite substantial.”

The house building drive comes after councillors gave the green light to plans that will see around £52 million spent on external improvements to 13 high-rise blocks across Oldbury, Rowley Regis and West Bromwich starting this year.

First in line is Alfred Gunn House in Oldbury, with improvements also planned for Darley House, Moorlands Court, St Giles Court, Addenbrooke Court and Wesley Court in Rowley Regis; Heronville House, Paget House and Wyrley House in Oldbury and Holly Court, Oak Court, Allen House and Boulton House in West Bromwich.

Source: Express and Star

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Shropshire Council plans to build and sell houses in bid to plug financial hole

Shropshire Council is planning to build and sell houses to make money as part of its efforts to tackle a financial black hole.

The council is suggesting the measure as one way of dealing with its financial deficit and says that the purchase of Shrewsbury’s shopping centres will also provide an income of £2.7 million in the next financial year.

Other projects the authority hope will raise money include the redevelopment of Shirehall as a ‘public sector hub’, the development of health centres and community hubs, and buying and developing commercial property.

The council also wants to sell its services to external clients, and look at new services it could provide.

These include a new library services initiative called “Fab Reads”, charging for the time of building control team staff, and fees for tree preservation orders.

The proposals will be discussed at Thursday’s Audit Committee meeting.

The move to build and sell houses has been welcomed by the council’s Labour leader Alan Mosley, who described the plan as a “far better” investment than the shopping centres.

He said: “It’s good to see that they’re looking at investing in housing, particularly the rental section, which would be a far better investment than the shopping centres in terms of social value.”

But he criticised proposals to sell some of the council’s services as a risk.

“Shropshire Council is desperate to try and fill the massive black hole in its finances and seeking additional income for services is one way,” Councillor Mosley added.

“However, as has been acknowledged in the financial strategy, there are massive risks in relying on income to fund future service needs.

“This is no way in which councils should be financing the provision of vital and critical resources for residents.”

The council’s commercial strategy, approved by cabinet in March 2017, intends to invest in schemes and projects which can deliver £10m to £15m of new revenue income over a period of five to 10 years with returns of investment exceeding 10 per cent.

A spokeswoman for Shropshire Council said: “As government funding dwindles, choosing where to make savings is getting more and more difficult, especially as demand on the services we provide for our most vulnerable residents increases.

“Our financial strategy sets out a number of savings we propose to make over the next five years in order to balance our (revenue) budget.

“A key part of this is raising income.

“We are continuing to review all of the services we deliver (over 150, across the county) to explore whether they can sell their existing services to external clients and identify any new ones they can provide.”

Source: Shropshire Star

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Plans for 500 new homes at Connaught Barracks in Dover have taken a step forward

Plans to start building 500 new homes at Connaught Barracks in Dover have been boosted, with work expected to begin this year.

Connaught Barracks is a former Ministry of Defence site of 55 hectares acquired by the Homes and Community Agency, now known as Homes England, in 2008.

With a Land Trust owned Napoleonic fort Fort Burgoyne at its core, it is hoped the development will bring a flurry of homes for first time buyers and families to the district.

Work started on the demolition of the buildings in 2016, with outline planning permission obtained for the first 64 homes in July that year.

The demolition work was originally due for completion in spring 2017.

But unknown push-backs meant the demolition phase at the site off Dover Road has only just been completed, almost a year later.

Now, all the old buildings have been knocked down and Homes England has been approaching housing developers ahead of construction.

Bids were received for the first phase of the scheme – the Officers’ Mess – last month.

An artist’s impression

The preferred bidder is expected to be announced soon.

Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke was shown around the site by bosses from Homes England on January 19.

He said: “There is so much potential for Connaught Barracks and I’m really excited about what can be achieved.

“I have urged Homes England to use the site to offer quality homes for first time buyers and families.

“I was pleased to see things are progressing. It’s vital the construction of the much needed homes now moves forward swiftly – and that we see work begin this year.

“The people of Dover have waited a long time for this project – now it’s time to deliver.”

Source: Kent Live

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Local councils ‘continue to ignore’ building affordable homes on farmland

Local authorities are continuing to ignore ways to deliver much needed affordable homes for local people across the countryside, according to a rural organisation.

New government data shows that despite a 9% increase in affordable homes built in small rural communities across England, only 51 more than the previous year were built on rural exception sites, farmland not usually granted planning permission but used for affordable housing developments.

The CLA, which represents landowners and farmers, welcomed the overall increase but said local councils across England could use these sites more effectively to help solve the rural housing crisis.

CLA Housing Adviser Matthew O’Connell said housing need is “widespread” throughout rural England.

“The increase in the total number of affordable homes being built is encouraging, however, large discrepancies between local authorities mean that certain councils are doing more than others,” he explained.

‘Missing a trick’

According to the data, Cornwall Council leads the way in number of homes built, whilst other councils lag behind.

Mr O’Connell believes local authorities are “missing a trick” by not using rural exception sites to their full potential.

“Rural exception sites are a key means of providing affordable homes in rural areas where a landowner provides land at below market value to build affordable homes for local people.

“We know that 27% of CLA members want to build affordable housing and many are keen to manage their own affordable properties. To harness this ambition, local councils and housing associations must engage with rural landowners to help bring more sites forward increasing the range of housing options for people in rural areas.

‘Hold the key’

Mr O’Connell added that rural landowners “hold the key” to easing the shortage of rural housing.

“Without challenging a few orthodoxies we are not going to solve the rural housing crisis. New build rented housing, affordable home ownership and affordable rented homes are all crucial to maintaining a living, working countryside,” he said.

To help increase the supply of affordable homes across the countryside the CLA is calling on the Government to formalise the process for landowners to manage affordable homes and implement the Housing White Paper proposals on rural exception sites.

The Housing White Paper proposed to give stronger support for rural exception sites and the role they can play in providing affordable housing for the community, even if this relies on an element of general market housing.

The CLA is also urging the government to exempt properties provided as affordable homes from liability for Inheritance Tax, and exempt the value of land sold for affordable homes from Capital Gains Tax.

Source: Farming UK

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Ambition set out for ‘dramatic increase’ in annual number of new homes built

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said he wanted to see “a dramatic increase in annual numbers” of new homes built.

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid has set out an ambition for more than 300,000 new homes to be built each year by the mid-2020s.

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government was speaking on a visit to a new housing development in Cambridgeshire where he launched Homes England, the new government agency which is replacing the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

He said that housing affordability was the “biggest housing issue in this country”, and while increasing the number of homes built from round 217,000 per year to 300,000 was a “big ask” he believes it is achievable.

He described Homes England as “the new government agency which is part of our plan to make sure we’re building far more homes in this country”.

He continued: “What this agency will do, and today here where we are in Cambridgeshire is a fantastic example of it, is help to assemble land, especially brownfield land, that can be developed into homes and work with those developers, help them with infrastructure and particularly focus on what I call the small and medium-size developers to help them build the homes that we need.”

Asked how the launch of Homes England was more than a rebrand from its predecessor the HCA, he said: “One thing that’s very different from before is the new agency has a lot more power, including a lot more what I would call firepower, so a lot more financial resources for example.

“One good way of demonstrating that is investment in infrastructure and what we found is to bring more housing sites forward and to bring them forward more quickly it really helps if you can invest in the road and rail links and other types of infrastructure that you need.

“If you can do it upfront, so you can show the local community that that infrastructure will definitely be there, I think you will get a lot more interest and you can bring forward a lot more sites.”

He said he wanted to see “a dramatic increase in annual numbers” of new homes built.

“What I’ve set out is by the middle of the next decade I want to see the current, around 217,000, number rise to at least 300,000,” he said. “That’s a big ask but I’m sure we can do it if we continue to work in partnership with developers, with local councils and others to get this done.”

He continued: “Housing affordability I think is the biggest issue in housing in this country and there’s far too many people, particularly younger families, that feel that owning or even renting a decent home is out of their reach.

“Clearly that’s not acceptable, so in the long term what we’ve got to continue doing is to increase the number of homes built each year.

“We’re at almost a 10-year high at the moment but we need to do a lot more.”

He said that in the short term “more immediate” help on offer included schemes such as Help To Buy and the lowering of taxes such as the cut in Stamp Duty.