Image of a nice new block of flats in London

One million new homes in cities

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, have announced that the government is to build one new million homes over this Parliament, meeting its manifesto commitment.

Achieving this would contribute to the government’s housebuilding strategy, whilst also helping to unblock the planning system. One considerable benefit for many communities is that the main focus of this target will be to construct more homes in inner-city areas, rather than building across the countryside. This is often where the demand for homes is at its peak, with one example of inner-city development coming in Cambridge, where there will be a new urban quarter, helping to unlock the city’s potential.

Video credit: Guardian News

Speaking about the plans, the Prime Minister said:

“Today I can confirm that we will meet our manifesto commitment to build one million homes over this parliament. That’s a beautiful new home for a million individual families in every corner of the country.

“We need to keep going because we want more people to realise the dream of owning their own home.

“We won’t do that by concerting over the countryside – 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.

“Our reforms today will help make thar a reality, by regenerating disused brownfield land, streamlining planning process and helping homeowners to renovate and extend their houses outwards and upwards.”

There are also significant bottlenecks within the planning system, something that the government are now taking steps to try and ease. This will help to increase growth and development, through the following measures:

  • Immediately launching a £24 million Planning Skills Delivery Fund to clear backlogs and get the right skills in place.
  • Setting up a new “super-squad” team of leading planners and other experts charged with working across the planning system to unblock major housing developments. The team will first be deployed in Cambridge to turbocharge our plans in the city.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said:

“Most people would agree that we need to build more homes – the question is how we go about it.

“Rather than concreting over the countryside, we have set out a plan today to build the right homes in the right places where there is community support – and we’re putting the resources behind it to help make this vision a reality.

“At the heart of this is making sure that we build beautiful and empower communities to have a say in the development of their area.”

The rejuvenation of the high street will also form part of this programme, with shops, betting shops and takeaways being transformed into homes, with red tape being also removed to help the conversion of barns and other agricultural buildings, as well as disused warehouses.

The UK has a long-standing shortage of homes. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that there are currently 2.5 million households on the waiting list for social housing, and the average house price in the UK is now over £250,000.

This shortage of homes has a number of negative consequences. It makes it difficult for people to find affordable housing, and it can lead to overcrowding and homelessness. It can also put a strain on public services, as more people are forced to live in overcrowded areas.

As stated by the Housing Secretary, houses must be beautiful, with community support playing a vital role in making this plan a success. Due to this, the government has also announced:

  • Office for Place- A new body will be launched today to lead a design revolution and ensure local people have a say in how housing is designed.
  • A consultation on reforming local plans, to make them simpler, shorter and more visual, showing clearly what is planned in local areas so communities can engage.

In response to the government’s announcement, London Councils’ Executive Member for Regeneration, Housing and Planning, Cllr Darren Rodwell, called for more power and resources for local authorities to deliver the housing. Cllr Rodwell said:

“Boroughs are ready and willing to help deliver the homes our communities need, but this requires more local powers and resources for housebuilding.

“Despite massive challenges, boroughs are working hard to accelerate housebuilding and have made solid progress in recent years. London saw more council-built homes started in 2022 than any year since the 1970’s.

“There are at least 143,000 potential new homes we could begin building immediately in London if the funding was in place, and we would welcome the prospect of enhanced government support for housing development and regeneration. We are calling for reform of Right to Buy receipts, increased grant allocations, and investment in new infrastructure so that we can truly turbocharge affordable housebuilding.

“The chronic shortage of affordable housing is the critical factor behind London’s skyrocketing homelessness figures. The situation is utterly unsustainable. There are 166,000 homeless Londoners living in temporary accommodation, including on average at least one homeless child in every London classroom.

“The focus must be on boosting delivery of affordable, high-quality homes. The government’s pledge to expand permitted development rights does not guarantee this will happen – in fact it brings serious risks. Boroughs must retain the ability to ensure housing is built to the right standards, in suitable locations, and with the necessary local infrastructure such as GP surgeries and transport connections.”

If you want to hear expert voices as they discuss some of the most pressing issues regarding public sector housing, register for Public Sector Executive’s Levelling Up Virtual Event on the 16th November. You can register here.


Image credit: iStock

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