Government announces schemes to accelerate home building


Government ministers have announced schemes totalling £5 billion designed to speed up the construction of tens of thousands of homes.

At the Conservative conference in Birmingham, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid set out details of a Home Building Fund using £3 billion of previously-announced cash to provide loans to stimulate projects, as well as a £2 billion Accelerated Construction scheme to make publicly-owned "brownfield" land available for swift development.

The Home Building Fund will provide £1 billion of short-term loan funding for small builders, custom builders and innovative developers to deliver 25,500 homes by 2020, while a further £2 billion of long-term funding for infrastructure will unlock up to 200,000 homes over the longer term, they said.

And the Accelerated Construction scheme will use £2 billion of new public sector borrowing to make public land with outline planning permission available to builders, including small new companies which can build at twice the rate of established construction firms.

Where needed, the state will take on the cost of  remediation work to reduce the risk of building on brownfield sites. 

Meanwhile, a plan for urban regeneration will aim "radically" to increase development on derelict and disused sites in urban areas, including turning abandoned shopping centres into new communities and increasing the density of housing around transport hubs.

Planning policy will adopt a "de facto" presumption in favour of building homes on suitable brownfield land and driving up density levels in high-demand areas - potentially delivering an additional 25,000 homes by 2021, the  ministers said.

And a new scheme to encourage the conversion of unused office buildings into homes will be extended to allow for demolition of office blocks to be replaced by housing, providing around 4,000 homes by the end of  2021.

Local planning authorities will be allowed to grant "permission in principle" on sites suitable for housing-led development identified in new brownfield registers, making development of up to 140,000 homes a year less risky for developers.

Mr Javid said: "This Conservative Government is getting on with the job of building a country that works for everyone. We've made great progress fixing the broken housing market we inherited from Labour, but now is the time to go further.

"We want to ensure everyone has a safe and secure place to live and that means we've got to build more homes.

"It is only by building more houses that we will alleviate the financial burden on those who are struggling to manage."

Mr Hammond said: "There has been a housing shortage in this country for decades, and this Government is determined to take action to tackle it.

"We'll use all the tools at our disposal to accelerate housebuilding and ensure that, over time, housing becomes more affordable. That is why we are committing £2 billion of additional investment towards this."

Speaking to the Birmingham conference on Monday, Mr Javid is expected to say: "Tackling the housing shortfall isn't about political expediency. It's a moral duty. And it's one that falls on all of us.

"Not just in Parliament, but in business, in local government and in our communities.

"So my message today is clear: it's time to get building."