Study calls for land release to enable affordable housing
The property firm Savills have released a report today saying there is an annual shortfall of 104,000 homes in London and the South East. It says much more land must be released by local planning authorities to lower land values and enable new homes to be sold at an affordable price. There are calls for more new towns to be built.
Sara Hanrahan, a Partner at Blake Morgan who specialises in advising affordable housing schemes, said: “There is no question that radical measures are needed if, as a nation, we want to significantly increase housing supply.
“However, the market will remain 'broken' if new homes are not made available at genuinely affordable prices.
“The Government's September Consultation Paper on 'right homes in right places' does not really offer any new radical solutions. The Government is pinning its hopes on the cumulative effect of small changes to the system – but more is needed.
“Savills, for example, comment on moving instead towards 'mass market' sites in areas where housing is generally less expensive. This would certainly help, but only if greenbelt land is released in order to create properly laid out new towns which will be sustainable.
“The Government could also be looking at other options, including providing better assistance to new home buyers by way of tax savings and reduction in stamp duty land tax. One option could be the purchase of a first home being linked to pension contributions that could be offset against part of the purchase price.”
Sara suggested that a cultural shift around renting homes and providing better-quality rented accommodation might be part of the wider long-term solution.
She added: “The report also touches on more purpose-built rental accommodation.
“In England there was shift towards home ownership several decades ago that has become embedded in our psyche. However, in many European countries there is much more flexibility in tenures and in Germany over half the population rents.
“As a result the standard of rental accommodation is generally much higher. Removing the stigma that surrounds renting and providing better quality housing is something the Government needs to examine in more detail.
“Probably not so popular a concept post Brexit, but essentially we need to become more 'European' in our thinking.”