RICS calls for more affordable homes

November 21, 2016 / Isla MacFarlane
RICS calls for more affordable homes

Ahead of the Autumn Statement, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has called on the government to take urgent action to ensure the delivery of affordable homes.

According to RICS’ UK Residential Market Survey, 86% of respondents are not expecting to market starter homes within the next 12 months. This suggests that respondents do not see any evidence of a pipeline on the horizon.

“These are things the government could do quickly that could boost the number of starter homes being built in the near future,” said Jeremy Blackburn, RICS’ Head of UK Policy. “However, we must be clear that not all starter homes will be affordable homes.

“Building more starter homes is a help, but it is only one way to tackle the huge social problem of the lack of affordable housing.”

Ahead of the Housing White Paper and Autumn Statement, RICS also says the government should do more to free up brownfield and unused land, as well as investing more in local council planning departments to speed up approval of applications.

The calls come in response to the findings of October’s RICS UK Residential Market Survey, which showed that 59 per cent of those questioned said that planning constraints was the main factor standing in the way of new housing development schemes.

It also showed that 59 per cent said freeing up brownfield sites would be the main thing government could do to encourage more affordable housing, and 33 per cent said the government should force developers to use land that is currently being land-banked.

However, the proposed RICS policy would make a clear distinction between bone fide developers who need a certain amount of land in their development pipeline, and the far fewer number of speculators who are sitting on land only to sell on at a profit.

To make this difference clear in policy terms RICS is recommending owners should develop the land within two to three years of receiving permission to build, or sell to those willing and capable to build on it.

On getting more brownfield and unused land into the system, RICS recommends that the government should use direct commissioning and positive intervention, as outlined by the Prime Minister, to drive release of public land, as well as taking a stake in the development partnership described in the ‘accelerated construction’ announcement.

The RICS also says that the national brownfield map must include private not just public sites, and that to free up the sites that are hardest to remediate local authorities should produce developer packs and look at how to better integrate match funding.

Finally, the Homes & Communities Agency, the co-ordinating body for divesting public land, should issue a clear, long term, nationwide plan for the release of permissible land, addressing the problems identified in the NAO’s assessment, and giving developers of all sizes certainty of sites likely to come to market.

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