300,000 new homes announced in Autumn Budget

Measures that are expected to boost house building by 300,000 by the mid 2020’s have been announced by the Chancellor Philip Hammond in this week’s Autumn Budget.

The headline announcement for home builders is a £44bn capital funding boost to help in the construction of 300,000 new homes over the next 7 years. This is backed by a £28m housing scheme to reduce rough sleeping in three pilot areas. Further funding includes a housing infrastructure fund, £34m to train construction workers and financial guarantees designed to support private housebuilding.

To make things easier on private housebuilders, a review of the planning permission system is to be carried out by Oliver Letwin to look at ways of speeding up the process. However, developers are being warned that they will be expected to build on the land they own that already has planning permission, in a bid to prevent land hoarding. Empty properties will also be targeted with a 100% council tax premium.

Federation of Master Builders (FMB) chief executive Brian Berry has reacted to the news with positivity. He states that small and medium-sized builders have been put at the heart of the plans to tackle the housing crisis. He also paid particular reference to plans to fund small sites - as this could boost small-scale development. Berry was also happy to see acknowledgement of the skills shortage in the construction industry and plans to increase resources in training for construction skills. He went on to suggest that this is especially relevant given the changes that are likely to come from Brexit.

Meanwhile, Stewart Baseley, the executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation has pointed out that homebuilders do not “bank land” and suggests that the issue is more to do with the planning system. He is hopeful that the announced review will identify ways in which this land can be built on more quickly.