DCLG Select Committee discusses the Housing White Paper

The Communities and Local Government Select Committee met this week (April 19) to discuss the Housing White Paper and question the Government’s position on certain key elements of it. Broadly, the Government is keen to fulfil its policy of building one million new homes by 2020, encouraging local authorities to hit their housing targets to ensure that housing supply meets demand. There will need to be a lot of Stakeholder Consultation over the next year.

More housing

The session started with the discussion of the affordability and supply of homes, as laid out in the Housing White Paper. Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, pointed out that he believes the only sensible solution to the broken housing market is to build more houses. He said that: “we are still way short of where we need to be,” and local authorities should actively encourage new developments.

Gavin Barwell MP, Housing Minister, made a statement reiterating the importance of new housing developments in ensuring that supply meets growing demand. He explained that the Government is keen to push quality and quantity of new homes.

Rental market

The committee then raised the topic of the growing rental market, highlighting that building regulations should be adapted to match the needs of the population, as it is recognised that more people now wish to rent instead of own their home. Sajid Javid responded to these comments in agreement. He explained that the Government would push local authorities to think more about the tenancies that people need, and consider the development of more ‘build to rent’ properties.

Green belt

The issue of green belt land remains high on the agenda, with the Government’s position still very against building on this land unless there are very special circumstances. It was stressed that, if local authorities wish to put forward a plan to build on the green belt, they must demonstrate that they have exhausted all possible options before doing so. Sajid Javid expressed his concern for this topic and described the green belt as ‘precious’.

Housing delivery

The discussions then turned to local plans. The Government endeavours to monitor each council and its local plan closely, to ensure that the number of houses in the plan are being built. This will be done by annual independent tests, which will run on a three-year rolling average. Any local authorities seen not to meet their housing targets will then have to produce an action plan, outlining the steps they are taking to hit their quota.

Good for housing, but…

The strong emphasis on the importance of building more new homes in Britain means that developers are in a great position. Local authorities will be trying to push their Local Plans and will welcome new plans for development. However, the upcoming snap election on 8th June, means that these issues will be discussed further by the new Government and an amended White Paper will need to be produced.

For more information on any of these issues, please contact Mike Hardware.