U.K. home build­ing set to reach record, but are they the right kind of homes?

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

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

on

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.

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