Duncan Lewis

Residential Property

Commercial Property

A report into the housing shortage has proposed relaxing of planning regulations to kick start the ailing housing industry.

Date: (23 August 2012)    |    

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The government is understood to be considering give a boost to the construction industry by a new policy driven house building which would be funded by the public money.

The housing minister, Grant Shapps, has indicated his support for recommendations in a government-commissioned report into the housing shortage where planning regulations are relaxed so as to make developers to include social housing and allowing investors to build on public land at no initial cost.

The move is designed to bring in a new wave of construction bringing profits to the taxpayer when eventually the homes are sold.
The report, commissioned by the government from the chairman of the 3i investment group, Sir Adrian Montague, and published on Thursday, will be taken even more seriously because of the urgent need for a boost to the economy to create jobs and confidence in the private sector.
Montague estimates that housing demand was increasing each year at double the rate at which homes were being built. Shapps said that Sir Adrian Montague's findings offered both a blueprint for achieving the set goal by building more homes and for setting the standards of accommodation that people should expect. He said he would be considering the recommendations very carefully.
Montague's report says the number of families renting has mushroomed from 2 million in the 1980s to 3.8 million. It says more families were now staying in rented accommodation for longer before they could afford to buy property.
The recommendations include councils making fewer demands in return for planning permission and revisiting the conditions imposed on already existing permissions which have been stalled due to cost concerns. The councils could in return seek promises from owners such as availability of new homes for rent for 10 to 21 years.
The report says the government and local authorities could donate land or even funding to reduce the initial outlay, and so the risk, for developers, in return for a share of the profits when schemes were sold, usually to big institutions such as pension funds which want a steady return for investors.
Montague also suggests a taskforce to co-ordinate the government's initiatives. More controversially, he rejects a "kitemark" for standards in rented homes but suggests a voluntary code of conduct for accommodation, energy efficiency, repairs and management.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of the housing and homelessness charity Shelter, said while it welcomes the report recognizing the need for more and better quality homes for people to rent, it had missed a trick in offering nothing for the millions of people already in the sector, paying sky-high rents and living under constant threat of eviction or further rent rises.