Fixing our broken housing market

The UK housing market has very grave issues, affordability, supply, location… we have a housing crisis and we need urgent action to confront those issues and resolve them. The Housing White Paper: ‘Fixing our broken housing market’ was published on 7th February, introduced in Parliament by the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid. The response from the housing industry was, in the main, lukewarm.


The Communities Secretary imageExcerpt from The White Paper: “The cause of our housing shortage is simple enough – not enough homes are being built. Fixing it is more complex. This is a problem that has built up over many decades, and solving it requires a radical rethink of our whole approach to home building.

With a new focus on renting and provision of quality rental stock, we need to ensure that buying also remains attractive. Achieving this balance is key to ensuring a sustainable market.

First, we need to plan for the right homes in the right places. This is critical to the success of our modern industrial strategy. Growing businesses need a skilled workforce living nearby, employees should be able to move easily to where jobs are without being forced into long commutes.

But at the moment, some local authorities can duck potentially difficult decisions, because they are free to come up with their own methodology for calculating ‘objectively assessed need.’ So, we are going to consult on a new standard methodology for calculating ‘objectively assessed need’ and encourage councils to plan on this basis. We will insist that every area has an up-to-date plan.”

Jonathan Manns imageJonathan Manns, Head Of Regeneration and Director of Planning at Colliers International: “It’s happened! After months of speculation the Government published it’s Housing White Paper. Yet, rather than this climactic moment proving to be the explosive finale to end a national crisis, the Secretary of State revealed a predictably damp squib. We turned up at the last night of the Proms expecting an evening of vigorous flag-waving, only to find the Albert Hall has closed due to funding cuts.”

Alex Sewell, Managing Director, Sewell & Gardner: There is little doubt that to date we have underexploited the potential of the smaller developers. Their reactive nature and flexibility means that they can have an important role to play in meeting our national targets. As with all the initiatives, it is the detail that will decide upon their success or otherwise.”

Paul Smith, haart, imagePaul Smith, CEO, haart: “The great hope for change turned out to be little more than bureaucratic tinkering. Radical policies such as a stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers or more housebuilding on Green Belt were missed – and little policy was put in place that has the power to get the market moving. The housing crisis is not going anywhere and challenges with affordability and a lack of supply are plaguing aspirations to move.”

Ben Sykes, Pygott & Crone: “By 2020, the aim is to build 200,000 ‘decent, well-built homes with gardens’ across the UK. Lincolnshire is doing its bit and we are optimistic that the region’s underdeveloped land will help the country reach its target.”

Simon Elliott, Associate Planner, Bidwells: “It was hoped that the White Paper would result in a step change in the process and procedures slowing the rate of house building, unfortunately, this isn’t so much a blueprint for a new housing sector but rather a document setting out what might one day go into that blueprint.”

Jeff Doble, CEO, Dexters: “This is a classic case of ‘Nanny knows best’ with the Government failing to understand the issues be being too quick to dismiss the views of the industry. Once again, this is too little too late – tinkering around the edges, rather than dealing with the causes.”

Andrew Barr, Robinson and Hall: “The Government is intent on significantly unblocking the pipeline and ensuring that the burden of housing delivery is equally assumed by urban and rural areas. There is a clear aim to provide certainty to developers and decision makers on when and where housing should be built.”

John Bagshaw, Corporate Services Director, Connells Survey & Valuation: “First-time buyers need to be able to move up the property ladder. The policies to ensure the right homes are built in the right places should boost the supply of family homes, but Government must deliver on their pledges to build homes faster.”

Marcus Whewell, CEO, Guild of Property Professionals: “The Government has the right intentions, but there are no clear strategies to reach their aims.”

Adam Offer, MD, Besley Hill Estate Agents: “It’s a grand plan with loads of different facets. Many old chestnuts plus some newer ideas, but anything to help with the supply of homes has to be welcome. So it’s about execution of those ideas and getting government firmly behind the ideas and kicking butt to make sure it happens.”

Mark Hayward, MD, NAEA: “Only 32,000 affordable homes were built in 2016, this is totally unacceptable. We’ve had years of empty promises and this has exacerbated the problem resulting in the price of properties being out of reach for so many.”

Rob Clifford imageRob Clifford, Commercial Director, SDL Group: “This is an extremely encouraging step to reach first stability and then growth in the property market. Delivery will be vital. With a new focus on renting and the provision of quality rental stock, we also need to ensure buying remains an attractive proposition. Achieving this balance will be key to ensuring a sustainable market.”

Jane Ashcroft CBE, CEO Anchor Housing: “The announcements on older people’s housing are utterly disappointing. It talked about having a conversation but what we need is action. The government has missed a major opportunity to help older people downsize and tackle the housing crisis.”

Naomi Heaton, CEO of London Central Portfolio: “Twice delayed, Sajid Javid’s lacklustre announcement, was an underwhelming response. Reiterating the grave problems facing the housing market, there was a distinct absence of any detailed implementation programme. Currently, the Government is not even standing still.”

Jon Jennings, Director, Cheffins: “This is an effort from the Government to increase productivity for builders and speed up planning. There’s a fine balance to be found, we must protect our countryside is from inappropriate development whilst providing enough new homes.”

Grainne Gilmore, Head of UK residential research, Knight Frank: “Policymakers have recognised that there needs to be support in the housing market for those of all ages in all tenures. Knight Frank has been calling for local plans to account for housing need by age, so it is most welcome to see this being put forward in the White Paper.”


House of Commons imageExcerpt from The White Paper: “Alongside affordable homes, we need more good quality privately rented homes. This sector has doubled over the last decade but rising rents suggest that demand is still growing. The government’s Private Rented Sector Task Force made major early inroads to establish the “Build to Rent” model in the UK and to stimulate initial investor interest. The Government has supported this through the £3.5 billion Private Rented Sector Housing Guarantee Scheme, and the £1bn Build to Rent Fund.” And:

“Where there are concerns, these tend to focus on affordability and security. In the long term, building more homes will help with affordability, but renters often face upfront costs including fees charged by letting agents to tenants. Tenants have no control over these fees because the agent is appointed by and works for the landlord. This is wrong. The Government has already introduced transparency on fees. We will consult early this year, ahead of bringing forward legislation as soon as Parliamentary time allows, to ban letting agent fees to tenants. This will improve competition in the market and give renters greater clarity and control over what they pay.”

Pau Staley imagePaul Staley, Director of PRS at SDL Group: “The focus will be on high density developments – large apartment blocks, housing numerous tenants. This is the direction institutions are following as it’s an easier transaction to invest £50m into one of these schemes, rather than, 500 houses spread over 10 sites. If we’re not careful, I feel the effort to grow PRS may have a very strong southern and city centre bias.”

Marcus Whewell, CEO, Guild of Property Professionals: “Some underlying principles in the white paper are controversial at best. Committing to more affordable new build properties offering minimum guaranteed tenancies is commendable. Suggesting that large corporate companies should be relied upon in future for lettings over private landlords is highly questionable.”

David Cox, Managing Director, ARLA: “It is important that tenants feel secure in their homes and are able to plan for the future. We welcome the Government’s approach to this, and have been working with DCLG on proposals for incentivising longer term tenancies; it is in the best interests of landlords, tenants and agents to have long, well maintained tenancies. It is a fallacy that a regular churn of tenants benefits anyone.”

David Smith, Policy Director, RLA: “The White Paper falls a long way short of the radical changes for tenants that we were promised. There may be more build to rent in our large towns and cities, but without any plans to support the hundreds of thousands of smaller landlords who make up the bulk of the supply, there will continue to be a major shortage.”

Sarah Bush, Director, Cheffins: “Whilst more homes being built specifically to rent certainly is good news, the suggestion of longer-term tenancy agreements is definitely a concern. Despite that these are intended to give renters more security, they will be unnecessary and unpopular. In transient marketplaces, where tenants are not looking to be tied into one property for more than six or twelve months. We also need to consider landlords, to make it harder for them to regain possession of their property is another hurdle.”

HAVE YOUR SAY! Consultation on the White Paper is open for 12 weeks until 2nd May 2017. file/590043/Fixing_our_broken_housing_ market_housing_white_paper.pdf 

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