Rishi Sunak Confident in Achieving Target of Constructing One Million New Homes
Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove have said that the goal of building one million new homes, mostly in cities, over this parliament will be met.
The levelling up and housing secretary will set out measures aimed at unblocking the planning system and increasing development in urban areas in a speech expected on Monday.
Gove has also reaffirmed his commitment to a manifesto pledge to build 300,000 new homes per year by the middle of the decade, according to Government sources.
Rishi Sunak said the solution to the UK’s housing shortage was not “concreting over the countryside”. He said, “Our plan is to build the right homes where there is the most need and where there is local support, in the heart of Britain’s great cities… by regenerating disused brownfield land, streamlining planning process and helping homeowners to renovate and extend their houses outwards and upwards.”
Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the group, said, “The increasingly anti-development policy environment is driving down housing supply, taking access to decent housing out of the reach in particular of young people, costing jobs and reducing economic activity. Much more decisive action is needed if government is serious about boosting housing delivery.”
The chair of the Local Government Association, Councillor Shaun Davies, said that further expanding permitted development rights “risks creating poor quality residential environments that negatively impact people’s health and wellbeing, as well as a lack of affordable housing or suitable infrastructure”.
Government figures show 687,000 new homes have been delivered since early 2019, reaching a high of 242,700 in the 12 months to April 2020, according to Sky News.
Paula Higgins, CEO of property advice website HomeOwners Alliance said, “We support action to build more homes, making use of inner-cities and brownfield sites to build more homes. While making it easier to convert empty retail premises into flats and houses is welcome in principle, these conversions are often of lower quality with poor ventilation. They certainly haven’t always been beautiful! Government must learn from its mistakes by creating a wild west of office to resi conversions. Developers must be required to meet all building and space standards; these developments must be properly inspected by a third party and buyers should receive a full structural warranty. We already warn our readers to confront the reality before buying such homes: very few conversions have private or shared outside space and some are located in very noisy and polluted streets, while others on business parks are sometimes miles from shops and schools. There is a risk these conversions are unsustainable and quickly become homes people don’t want to live in once the newness wears off. If the government wants to truly build homes in the places people want to live, they need a strategy for building in suburban and rural areas as well as cities.”
After attending Michael Gove’s speech on the UK Government’s future plans for housing, Nathan Emerson, CEO of Propertymark said that the government’s commitment to building more homes is “disappointing”. He said that in order to provide the homes the country needs, plans need to be “more ambitious” and the government must go “faster and further to achieve this”. He added, “Avoiding a fragmented approach is key, as well as having housing targets that are linked to tenure to meet the demand in different areas across the country. Housing reforms must also reflect societal change, help tackle the climate emergency, involve the tax system, meet the needs of older people and ultimately provide more affordable options, whilst protecting the green belt. Changes to the private rented sector in England have been long awaited and it is positive to hear that the UK Government is looking to ensure that good landlords and agents are supported in these proposals. The announcements from the Secretary of State are a step in the right direction, but we need action now across all regions to provide homes that the country needs.”
Sam Rees, Senior Public Affairs Officer at RICS, added that RICS welcomes the announcement on boosting the supply of homes. He added, “RICS has repeatedly stressed the importance of setting new homes targets, and the commitment from Michael Gove to building 1 million homes during this government is a step in the right direction. However, this figure is lower than the government’s original 300,000 new build annual target, which it never met. Plans to cut red tape to encourage extensions and conversions won’t deliver a significant increase in new homes at scale, but it can help to repurpose high streets and bring shops and offices back into use. That said, RICS stresses that any cut in red tape must not come at the detriment of quality, safety, and sustainability, that we have seen with prior planning reforms.”
Also, Gary Strong, Global Building Standards Director at RICS, urges the government to now deliver this announcement and “legislate second staircases in new residential buildings over 18m as soon as possible”. He added, “RICS also welcomes the announcement of the opening of the Cladding Safety Scheme, and again urges this be put in place quickly. Six years is too long for any resident to have to wait for Government to act when it comes to fire safety and cost alleviation.”
Asked by Eamonn Holmes on GB News if his job was “mission impossible,” Gove replied, “No, I don’t think it is mission impossible, but you are right. The first thing is that the high street is changing, the whole pattern of shopping is changing. But in order to have attractive high streets in the future, I think we want to have more people living in town and city centres and then the high street will become more of a place for some independent shops, yes, but also for leisure and for hospitality. We know that we need more new homes, but there’s a lot that we’ve done as a government to increase the number of homes in this country. But we need to go further. We also need to make sure that they’re in the places where the demand is highest and the places where it makes most sense economically and environmentally.”