U.K. home building set to reach record, but are they the right kind of homes?
It is all looking positive for the UK housing market for the new year with new home building set to reach a high and prices forecast to keep rising due to high demand and lack of supply and then interest rates continuing at a record low.
Home building is going to be the buzz for 2016 and the government has just announced a pilot scheme to build 13,000 new homes, of which 40% will be affordable starter homes on public owned land.
Prime Minister David Cameron seems determined to keep home building high on his political agenda and said that the new homes will be directly commissioned by the government from up and coming builders.
Indeed, five sites have been announced
former Ministry of Defence land and old hospitals. These are the kind of brownfield sites that the government want to see used for new home building.
But it won’t all be plain sailing. Some of the main challenges for small developers will remain the complications and delays relating to planning consents. Then there are issues that haven’t been fully discussed such as how environmentally friendly these new homes will be.
People buying a new home want it to be well insulated, many would probably also want the choice of having solar power, integrated technology throughout, fast broadband, space and access to an outdoor space.
Just building a load of rabbit hutches won’t work. These new homes need to be what people want. And while there has been a lot of talk of affordable homes for first time buyers, little thought seems to have gone into integrating retirement housing into new building schemes.
I fear that the planning system will continue to delay development as there are still a number of constraints. Many of the provisions in the Housing and Planning Bill and the Autumn Statement would appear positive, but there remains so much uncertainty, particularly the confusion over whether or not small developments will continue being exempt from including affordable homes.
Indeed, small developers, whom the government wants to boost, point out that the main challenges remain the complications and delays relating to planning consents. So as well as making welcome announcements on new home building, the government also needs to fast track its promised planning improvements.
We must ensure the needs of the whole population, including older and disabled people who are often not mentioned in these announcements, are met through an increase in the number of new homes that are accessible The emphasis needs to be on creating good quality homes that not only meet housing need, but create beautiful communities offering people a decent quality of life.