Minister calls for price stability
HOUSING minister Grant Shapps has called for a period of house price stability to prevent generations being priced out of home ownership.
Speaking at the Housing Market Intelligence conference in London, he argued that buying a property should be seen as a home first rather than an investment.
He said: “This country is in danger of letting down the aspirations of a generation if homes do not become more affordable in the long term.
“So what is required now is a period of house price stability. A home should first and foremost be thought of as a place to live and bring up a family.”
The Minister promised Government support for housebuilders by cutting through the “alphabet soup” of red tape. He said the Government would simplify the system, with housebuilders’ help.
“Last year, house building hit its lowest level for any peacetime years since 1924 as developers have been hampered by regional targets that put them in direct conflict with local communities and an alphabet soup of regulations and red tape they have to navigate,” he said
But house builders demanded more detail, as information on the proposed new planning system is thin.
HBF, that represents the industry, is demanding that Ministers act quickly to provide a route map for how it intends to reduce regulation, as well as detail and certainty on the key planks for the coalition’s new planning regime.
It said that information had been “painfully slow in coming” five months after housebuilding targets in the form of Regional Spatial Strategies were scrapped.
HBF executive chairman Stewart Baseley said: “Grant Shapps’s commitment to the removal of red tape is welcome and we are keen to work with Government to create their planned climate for delivery. But we urgently need clarity on this and on how the new incentive and planning systems will work.
“A firm timetable for implementation of the coalition’s new policies would give industry and communities the necessary clarity and help end the current house building hiatus.”
The national housing crisis has seen fewer homes built in the last year than at any peacetime since 1923 while first-time buyers are at record lows. While the Government is insisting that it wants to encourage and meet aspiration, home-builders fear that the hiatus in the planning system will continue without concrete details of the new Government’s proposals.
What is clear is that Government money for affordable housing will be in short supply. Mr Shapps said the provision now depends on “innovative funding structures” to replace state handouts.
He warned the comprehensive spending review will reveal some “harsh realities”.
RED TAPE: Grant Shapps.