Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are being urged to take urgent action to stimulate the housing sector to enable the UK to accelerate on the road to recovery as it emerges from the Covid-19 lockdown.
A Stamp Duty holiday, extending the Help to Buy scheme, a simplified planning system and supercharged incentives for local authorities to deliver housing, are among the measures being demanded.
The Land Promoters and Developers Federation (LPDF) and Barton Willmore, the UK’s largest independent planning consultancy, have joined forces to draw up a series of recommendations in their route map for resurgence – Building a Recovery.
The report, submitted to the Prime Minister, Chancellor, and Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, highlights the role the housing industry can play in leading the economic recovery – as it has done in the past.
Paul Brocklehurst, chairman of the LPDF, said: “The housebuilding industry is critical to the recovery, both economically and socially. Now, more than ever, the Government needs to ensure that the planning system can deliver on its target of 300,000 new homes being built each year by the mid-2020’s.
“We welcome the fact that the Government has introduced measures to re-open the housing market following the lockdown and has demonstrated its willingness to support the economy by an unprecedented financial stimulus. We ask that the Government introduces further measures to stimulate the housing market.”
Paul added: “The sector can form a central role in any economic recovery plan for Great Britain. It can do so whilst supporting the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda and can address the inequity that is developing between generations through a lack of access to housing, with the wide-ranging socio-economic benefits that this can bring.”
Michael Knott, director at Barton Willmore, said: “The planning system needs to play a central role in supporting the recovery and the Government has promised to publish ambitious reforms in the coming weeks. We believe that the recovery can be readily supported through measures to improve how the current system operates as opposed to radical reforms at this time.”
Proposals contained in ‘Building a Recovery’ include:
- Extending the current Help to Buy scheme by at least 18 months to ensure First Time Buyers are able to get onto the home ownership ladder.
- Boost housing transaction levels by introducing a targeted Stamp Duty holiday for 18 months.
- Fast-track the First Homes initiative, with a focus in the first instance on Key Workers.
Improving and simplifying the planning system is key to success. The Government should:
- Urgently review the Standard Method to appropriately and consistently calculate housing need.
- Supercharge incentives for local authorities to deliver the housing required so that all residents can benefit from better infrastructure and services.
- View allocations in Local Plans as deemed approvals, which should only be required to obtain further consent for design and layout.
- Consider a re-organisation of local government to greater reflect strategic housing market areas as part of the Government’s devolution agenda.
The benefits of boosting housing delivery include:
- Direct and indirect employment.
- Supports regional economic development policies.
- Assists social mobility and access to owner occupation
- Positive contribution to mental wellbeing, including the benefits of access to communal and private green space in many new developments.
Paul added: “Land promoters now provide housebuilders with approximately 50% of the land on which they build. Our members risk their capital in enabling development by ensuring that housebuilders have land with a planning consent on which they can build.
“We can’t build without land and we cannot develop without planning. The land promotion industry, coupled with positive forward planning, is therefore critical to recovery.”