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Report Outlines Planning Reforms Needed to Improve UK Housebuilding

A new report, titled Homes for Everyone, has suggested that planning reforms, such as setting aside a certain number of new build homes for UK residents, would help increase homebuilding activity and promote home ownership. 

With rates of home ownership on the decline among young people and first time buyers typically taking 10 years to save for a deposit, the report contains proposals for how to increase housebuilding output and ensure that many of the completed homes go to first time buyers. 

The report, which was authored by Chris Philp, MP for Croydon South, also includes new research into the long-time shortage of homes across all UK regions and presents a social and economic case for home ownership. 

It states that the gap between the number of homes needed and the number being built stands at 76,000 annually. Approximately 40,000 per year are in the capital while there are 10,000 each in the East and Southeast. Since 2000 the cumulative housing shortage has reached 96,000 in the South-East and 343,000 in London. 

Homes for Everyone states that over a period of 25 years, homeowners will be £100,000 - £300,000 wealthier than a renter. It also claims that in London, the number of housing starts has gone down under the current mayor, and that more new homes are being sold to foreign buyers. 

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Although it welcomes recent government initiatives, such as the stamp duty reduction for first time homebuyers, the report makes certain planning reforms to make the system run faster and in favour of first time buyers. They include: 

  • Merging the Section 106 requirement for developments with less than 100 homes with the Community Infrastructure Levy 
  • Removing the requirements that developments under 20 units offer affordable housing 
  • Creating ‘Pink Zones’ where development is automatically approved under certain conditions  

They also recommend: 

  • Fast-tracking planning approval and resolution of disputes 
  • Hurrying up the disposition of public land 
  • Supporting government ability to act on housing matters 
  • Advocating for staircasing agreements that allow renters to slowly buy their homes over a number of years 

The report also recommends that the UK follow the example of certain other countries and favour British first-time buyers by restricting the number of new build developments with over 20 units that can be purchased by non-residents. MP Chris Philp said that the government has taken major steps to increase home building, but more needs to be done. He recommended that home ownership be placed at the forefront of the policy agenda and steps be taken to help first time buyers get onto the property ladder. 

Centre for Policy Studies director Robert Colvile said that housing is the UK’s biggest challenge when it comes to domestic policy and is impacting the lives of an entire generation. He recommended that the ideas in the new report by Mr Philp be given serious consideration to make home ownership more accessible to younger people. 

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