Force speculators to use land and support planning departments to get more affordable homes built

The latest data from The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) shows that 86% of respondents to the residential survey 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.

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

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.

Jeremy Blackburn, head of policy at RICS, said: “These are things the government could do quickly that could boost the number of starter homes being built in the near future. 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,”

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