Government fund could buy homes developers can't sell

Updated: 

A new Government housebuilding fund could step in and buy homes that developers cannot sell in a bid to allow sites in England to be built faster, it has been suggested.  

A £2 billion accelerated construction scheme, to make publicly owned brownfield land available for swift development, was unveiled at this week's Conservative Party conference.

Under the moves unveiled earlier this week, 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.

Discussing how housebuilding could be ramped up, Sir Edward Lister, chairman of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), told Property Week: "It's about us going to a housebuilder and instead of expecting the normal build-out rate of 50 units a year, we'll say we want you to build all 500 in one go and what we'll do is guarantee to take them off you if you can't find a buyer."

The HCA is the national housing, land and regeneration agency in England. It is sponsored by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Property Week reported that under the new scheme, if the state was required to buy homes, it was suggested the HCA could directly sell them either on the open market, to private rented sector investors or registered social landlords.

This could tackle developer concerns that they cannot build homes faster than they can sell them. 

A spokeswoman for the HCA said: "The HCA is exploring a number of ways that result in faster build out rates."

She said one of these is to share the exposure with a contractor "in the rare circumstance that homes are not sold".