Avant aims to dou­ble the number of homes it builds

Builder’s plea to re­form Help to Buy

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - ROS SNOW­DON CITY ED­I­TOR Email: ros.snow­don@ypn.co.uk Twit­ter: @RosSnow­donYPN

NORTH­ERN HOUSE­BUILDER Avant Homes has an­nounced plans to more than dou­ble the number of homes it builds to 4,000 a year and called on the Govern­ment to ur­gently re­form the Help to Buy scheme.

Avant said that if a house­builder fails to in­crease out­put by a given per­cent­age in one year, its ac­cess to Help to Buy sub­si­dies should be re­duced the fol­low­ing year.

Avant’s CEO Colin Lewis said it is time for Govern­ment sub­si­dies to help home buy­ers who need them rather than boost house­builders’ prof­its.

“Help to Buy is a use­ful tool. It’s sup­port­ing the avail­abil­ity of homes, but not to the ex­tent it could,” he said.

“Some­one buy­ing a £600,000 home in the South East surely doesn’t need Help to Buy to sub­sidise them.”

He said it was up to the Govern­ment to do its re­search and set a tar­get for in­creased out­put.

“At the mo­ment Help to Buy is work­ing for the ben­e­fit of house­builders and it should be for the ben­e­fit of home buy­ers,” he added.

“Scot­land has re­duced their lim­its on Help to Buy to £200,000 per home. That’s a good start­ing point.”

The Govern­ment has come un­der fire for us­ing tax­pay­ers’ money to pro­mote Help to Buy, which has boosted prof­its at the ma­jor house­builders, lead­ing to protests about bonuses at firms like York-based Per­sim­mon.

“Help to Buy has helped many home buy­ers to get their foot on the lad­der, but the fact re­mains that the UK is still fac­ing a se­vere hous­ing short­age,” said Mr Lewis.

“If we are to con­tinue with this valu­able ini­tia­tive, changes must be made to re­bal­ance the ben­e­fits of the pol­icy to home buy­ers and away from house­builders. Let’s link the avail­abil­ity of Help to Buy funds for house­builders to an in­crease in the num­bers of new homes they build.”

Mr Lewis said that Avant is keen to play its part and the group aims to dou­ble its pro­duc­tion to 4,000 homes a year by 2023. He said the ob­vi­ous ar­eas for more hous­ing are be­tween Sh­effield and York, the North West, the Mid­lands and Scot­land.

The av­er­age price of an Avant home is around £260,000 and the group is keen to tar­get the sub £200,000 mar­ket by in­tro­duc­ing a range of smaller foot­print homes which it can of­fer to cus­tomers at a lower price point.

“We ex­pect this new range to sell for £175,000 to £185,000,” said Mr Lewis.

“These are two, three and fourbed­room houses that are built with a more cost ef­fec­tive de­sign. They are for peo­ple who want an Avant home but can’t af­ford it. They are smaller houses and sim­pler to build.”

The firm has car­ried out a trial of these cheaper homes at two sites in Scot­land.

“Our cus­tomers love them,” said Mr Lewis.

“We are look­ing at a number of lo­ca­tions around the coun­try. We will have op­por­tu­ni­ties in York­shire.”

The plans were an­nounced as Avant re­ported strong growth and said it is on track to de­liver its cur­rent tar­get of de­liv­er­ing 2,000 homes per year in 2018, one year ahead of sched­ule.

The group is set to de­liver record vol­umes in the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year as it is fully sold for this year with two months of the fi­nan­cial year to go. It ex­pects to de­liver 25 per cent rev­enue growth and to end its fi­nan­cial year with 70 out­lets, up 40 per cent on last year.

“We have made ex­cep­tional progress in grow­ing our business over the past few years thanks to our re­lent­less fo­cus on of­fer­ing as­pi­ra­tional, cus­tomer-led homes,” said Mr Lewis.


‘At the mo­ment Help to Buy is work­ing for the ben­e­fit of house­builders.’

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