The government is looking to build cheaper houses in greater density to reach its target of building a million new homes by 2020.
Sajid Javid, secretary of state for communities & local government, told the Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham this week about his three-pronged strategy to step up house-building, which he described as ‘a moral duty’.
He said: “First, today we are opening a massive £3bn Home Builders Fund. This major package will help us build more than 225,000 new homes and will create thousands of jobs up and down the country. It will help us get more SMEs building, encourage custom-builders, and allow developers to build the infrastructure needed to support new housing.
“Second, we will pilot a new initiative: Accelerated Construction on public land. We will take government-owned land and partner with contractors and investors to speed up housebuilding. We will create new supply chains using offsite construction. And we will encourage new models of building to make houses that people want, more cheaply and at pace. These measures will allow us to get started on 15,000 homes by 2020. We will get more homes built, more quickly.
“Third, we will bring forward a package of measures to encourage urban regeneration and to build on brownfield land. We want to radically increase brownfield development and bring life back to abandoned sites. That means delivering high quality housing for families, bringing new energy to our high streets and town centres, abandoned shopping centres being transformed into new communities, and increasing density of housing around stations to build homes that people want to live in.”
He continued: “These three initiatives are just the beginning. We will publish a Housing White Paper later this year, with further significant measures, all helping us towards our ambition for a million new homes by 2020.”
The Home Builders Fund will provide £1bn of short term loan funding. This will be used for small builders and custom builders to deliver 25,500 homes by 2020. This is an increase of £325m over the previous commitment of £525m through the Builders Finance fund and the £150m Build to Rent fund (both of which will now be incorporated within the new combined fund).
The fund will also provide £2bn of long-term funding for infrastructure. This will be used to unlock a pipeline of up to 200,000 homes over the longer term – with the emphasis on developments on brownfield land. This is effectively a re-announcement of the 2015 Large Sites Infrastructure Fund, but with the pot increased from £1.2bn to £2bn.
The Accelerated Construction project will be paid for through £2bn of new public sector net borrowing but is expected to deliver value uplift for the government in the long term, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) said.
Sites within the government’s land portfolio that can be built on by 2020 will be identified, and the government will work with local authorities to help them bring forward their own sites. Government will deliver outline planning permission and undertake the costs of some remediation work to reduce development risks on their sites, and offer support to local authorities to do the same on theirs.
The plans for urban regeneration are largely those have been previously consulted on or are contained within the Housing & Planning Act 2016. While there is a focus on bringing forward brownfield sites for redevelopment there is no return to a “brownfield first” strategy, either explicit or implied, said the HBF.