Michael Gove made the announcement this morning

Government pledges to build one million new homes over this parliament

The government has pledged to meet its manifesto commitment of creating one million extra homes over this parliament by aiming to increase efficiency.

Secretary of state for levelling up, Michael Gove, led a speech this morning (24th July) where he issued a number of plans to speed up development processes and cut the backlog.

One of these plans was for development to concentrate on inner-city areas rather than the countryside, where the government said there was the highest demand and where growth was the most constrained.

“Most people agree that we need to build more homes, the question is how we go about it; we have set out a plan today to build the right homes in the right places where there is community support, and we’re putting the resources behind it to help make this vision a reality,” said Gove.

The new plans also included new freedoms for converting old commercial spaces such as takeaways, betting shops and warehouses — as well as old agricultural buildings — into residential units, while likewise pledging to make residential refurbishments easier such as extensions and loft conversions.

Red tape will also be cut to enable barn conversions and the repurposing of agricultural buildings and disused warehouses.

Prime minister, Rishi Sunak, commented: “Our reforms today will help make [the one million new homes] a reality, by regenerating disused brownfield land, streamlining planning process and helping homeowners to renovate and extend their houses outwards and upwards.”

The Conservatives also announced plans to launch a £24m planning skills delivery fund to clear the backlog, as well as a ‘super squad team’ of planners and experts deployed across areas to help improve efficiency, while developers will be asked to contribute more through fees.

The government similarly launched the responsible actors scheme today, in which developers will be added to a list of those who have taken action to remediate serious fire and safety issues.

The scheme aims to improve the safety and standard of buildings by requiring that any member must:

  • identify residential buildings that are over 11 metres in height in England that they developed or refurbished over the 30 years ending on 4th April 2022, and any of those buildings known to have life-critical fire safety defects
  • remediate and/or mitigate, or pay for the remediation/mitigation of, life-critical fire safety defects in those buildings
  • reimburse government schemes for taxpayer-funded work to remediate and/or mitigate defects in those buildings, thereby assisting government to be able to pay for and implement remediation schemes designed to make buildings safe

Commenting on Gove’s speech, Lewis Shaw, founder of Shaw Financial Services, said: “I'll believe it when I see it; we haven't had a coherent housing strategy in the UK for over 40 years and the constant revolving door for housing ministers only adds to this problem.”

Mark Reynolds, CEO at construction company Mace, also commented: “One of our biggest challenges as an industry is a lack of clarity over the future pipeline of construction work across the UK.

“This welcome funding for more planning experts will help to decrease waiting times for planning decisions — a major cause of uncertainty and delay in delivery across the construction sector — and a review of permitted development rights could help to unlock UK-wide growth, through the opportunity for more work across the country for the repair, maintenance and improvement sector.”

Laura Bairstow, founder at the Mortgage Masters, explained: “While in theory this may sound like a good idea, many lenders don't like to lend on properties that are above or close to business premises.

“Lenders consider borrowers on this type of property [as a] higher risk, resulting in fewer options when it comes to deals and products available.”

Scott Taylor-Barr, financial adviser at Barnsdale Financial Management, added: “Making the conversion of currently unused buildings easier is a win-win.

“It creates more housing for people and regenerates property that otherwise would sit vacant, and boarded-up shops are never going to be a good thing for an area.

“On the other side of this though, there is a limit; no one wants to see all urban centres just become a glut of new housing with no shops, bars, cafes, or similar, which opens up a different debate about the way the current business rates system works, and how that needs a massive overhaul to encourage more small businesses to open up in these areas.”

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