The government has announced it is to ‘directly commission’ thousands of new affordable homes as well as making provision for an additional £1.2bn fund to build 30,000 affordable ‘starter homes’ on underused brownfield land in the next five years.
Described as a ‘radical new policy shift, not used on this scale since Thatcher and Heseltine started the Docklands,’ the government’s plan to directly commission the building of homes on publicly owned land is intended to deliver “quality homes built at a faster rate with smaller building firms — currently unable to take on big projects — able to get building on government sites where planning permission is already in place.”
The first wave of up to 13,000 dwellings will start on four sites outside of London in 2016 — up to 40% of which will be affordable ‘starter’ homes. This approach will also be used in at the Old Oak Common site in north west London.
A separate £1.2bn starter home fund to prepare brownfield sites for new homes has also been announced, with the government stating that this will fast-track the creation of at least 30,000 new starter homes and up to 30,000 market homes on 500 new sites by 2020 — helping deliver the commitment to create 200,000 starter homes over the next five years.
Currently, the top eight housebuilding firms provide 50% of new homes. The direct commissioning approach is intended to support smaller builders and new entrants who are ready to build but lack the resources and access to land.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “This government was elected to deliver security and opportunity — whatever stage of life you’re at. Nothing is more important to achieving that than ensuring hard-working people can buy affordable homes. Today’s package signals a huge shift in government policy. Nothing like this has been done on this scale in three decades — government rolling its sleeves up and directly getting homes built.
“Backed up with a further £1.2 billion to get homes built on brownfield sites, it shows we will do everything we can to get Britain building and let more people have the security that comes with a home of their own.”
The pilot schemes for direct commissioning on publicly owned land will start at the following five sites:
- Connaught Barracks, Dover
- Northstowe, Cambridgeshire
- Lower Graylingwell, Chichester
- Daedelus on Waterfront, Gosport
- Old Oak Common, north west London
For more on this issue and comments from a number of industry bodies, click here to see PBM’s round-up.