A sneak preview of the Housing White Paper

February 7, 2017 / Isla MacFarlane
A sneak preview of the Housing White Paper

The wait is finally over – the government will today (7 February) introduce new plans to fix the broken housing market and build more homes across England.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid is expected to say the current system isn’t working and is one of the greatest barriers to progress in Britain today.

New measures will include:

Getting the right homes built in the right places

Consulting on the principle of a new, standardised way of calculating housing demand to reflect current and future housing pressures. Every local area will need to produce a realistic plan and review it at least every five years. Councils and developers will also be expected to use land more efficiently by avoiding building homes at low density and building higher where there is a shortage of land and in locations well served by public transport such as train stations.

Speeding up house building 

Giving local authorities the tools to speed up housebuilding as well as powers to make sure developers build homes on time. The government will make it easier for councils to issue completion notices, shortening the timescales to require developers to start building within two years, not three, when planning permission is granted.

Diversifying the market

Action to help small independent builders enter the market given including through the £3bn Home Building Fund.  Currently around 60 per cent of new homes are built by just 10 companies.  The fund will help us to build more than 25,000 new homes this Parliament and up to 225,000 in the longer term by providing loans for SME builders, custom builders, offsite construction and essential infrastructure, creating thousands of new jobs in the process.

Further measures in the Housing White Paper, ‘Fixing our broken housing market’ include:


In April 2017, the Government will introduce the Lifetime ISA. This will support younger adults to save flexibly for the long term, giving them a 25% bonus on up to £4,000 of savings a year. Savings and the bonus can be put towards the purchase of a first home, or withdrawn once they reach the age of 60.

Starter homes will be targeted at first time buyers who would otherwise be priced out of the market.  We intend to make clear through the NPPF that starter homes like shared ownership homes, should be available to households that need them most, with an income of less than £80,000 (£90,000 for London).  The result of these changes means we will change our focus from starter homes to a wider range of affordable housing.

The wider range of Government programmes will help over 200,000 people become homeowners by the end of the Parliament.


The government will put measures to tackle the high cost of renting at the heart of its plan to fix the broken housing market. This includes amending planning rules so councils can proactively plan for more long-term Build to Rent homes and a consultation will be launched to allow developers to offer more affordable rent alongside other forms of affordable housing.

Also ensuring more longer-term tenancies are available in private rented schemes to provide more stability to families renting.  We are working closely with the British Property Federation and National Housing Federation to ensure that these longer-tenancies become widely available.


Ministers will reaffirm this government’s commitment to the Green Belt – that only in exceptional circumstances may councils alter Green Belt boundaries after consulting local people and submitting the revised Local Plan for examination, and set out for the first time all the actions local authorities must take before considering the Green Belt.

The plan for ‘Urban Regeneration’ includes strengthening national planning policy to create a “de facto” presumption in favour of housing on suitable brownfield land and to drive up density levels in high demand areas while ensuring that developments are well-designed and respect the character of the local area.

Also taking action to radically increase brownfield development and to bring life back to abandoned sites. That means high quality housing for families in town centres, breathing new life back into our high streets, turning abandoned shopping centres into new communities and increasing density of housing around transport hubs to build homes that people want to live in.


The Government will act to promote fairness and transparency for the growing number of leaseholders. Some buyers are not aware that buying a leasehold house can be more expensive than a freehold house in the long run. Some ground rents can increase significantly over the lease period and be traded with leaseholders left in the dark. The government will consult on a range of measures to tackle all unfair and unreasonable abuses of leasehold.

The government will also introduce a new Lifetime ISA in 2017, extend the Right to Buy discounts to housing association tenants, and invest in new homes for Shared Ownership, Affordable Rent and Rent to Buy.

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