The property press has been buzzing with rumours about the summit Theresa May called to put an emergency bandage on Britain’s broken housing market.
It has now been confirmed that the Prime Minister met representatives of large and small housing developers, housing associations and local government to discuss achieving a step change in the delivery of new homes.
A Downing Street spokesperson said, “The Prime Minister outlined her plans to increase housing supply which means developers, big and small, local authorities and housing associations all stepping up to play their part.
“Other issues discussed included making the most of modern methods of construction, having the skilled workers we need, helping small and medium sized enterprises grow and making sure planning permissions granted by councils were delivered into new homes.”
According to government sources quoted by the Telegraph, the Prime Minister intended to “lay down a challenge” to the industry to construct more homes, in a “significant intervention”.
According to the Daily Mail, May demanded that developers build homes on the land they own amid figures showing the 10 biggest companies are sitting on more than 400,000 unused plots. She is thought to have raised the controversial practice of ‘landbanking’, although industry bodies such as the HBF have long denied such a practice exists.
However, it seems those in attendance also had an opportunity to set out their ideas and commitments, as well as the actions needed to remove the barriers they were facing in building new homes.
“The fact that local government had a seat at the table at the Prime Minister’s housing summit today is another positive sign that the government rightly sees councils as part of the solution to our housing shortage,” said Local Government Association Chairman Lord Porter, who attended the summit. “It was encouraging that everyone around the table agreed with us about the important role councils must play and pleasing that the Prime Minister is taking personal ownership of this challenge.
“We now hope to see positive action taken by the Government in the Autumn Budget to spark the genuine renaissance in council housebuilding we desperately need.”
They also discussed some of the recent measures taken by government including enabling 130,000 more families to get on the housing ladder through the £10 billion Help to Buy scheme and an additional £2 billion for affordable housing.
Pressure is mounting on Chancellor Phillip Hammond to drop the ‘safety first’ approach in this year’s Budget on 22 November. It is widely expected that the Chancellor will make big promises on housing in a bid to win young voters.
According to the Sunday Times, the chancellor of the Exchequer is preparing to announce far-reaching changes to housing and planning policy in his budget speech.
These changes, which are allegedly being pushed by Sajid Javid and David Gauke, include allowing local authorities to borrow money in order to finance housebuilding and loosening planning restrictions on green belt land.