Press release

Greg Clark gives starter home boost to first-time buyers

Communities Secretary launches £26 million fund for housebuilders to demonstrate the range of high quality homes for first-time buyers.

Building site

Communities Secretary Greg Clark today (10 August 2015) gave a boost to the government’s starter homes initiative by launching a £26 million fund for housebuilders to demonstrate a range of high quality homes that will be available for first-time buyers.

These will pave the way for the first wave of starter homes and show aspiring young homeowners the different types of properties they can come to expect from the scheme.

The fund will support architects, developers, councils, housing associations and small builders to build properties that will increase the quality of design as the government delivers on its pledge to build 200,000 starter homes by 2020.

It will be used to acquire brownfield sites to provide land for starter homes. Money from the sales of these sites will go back to the government – securing good value for the taxpayer.

In a further move to support aspiring homeowners the government has also today made available up to £10 million for local authorities to prepare more brownfield land for development of starter homes.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said:

As a one nation government we are on the side of hard-working people and that is why we are committed to delivering 200,000 starter homes by the end of this Parliament, providing a real boost to aspiring young first-time buyers.

This competitive fund will build homes that will clearly show the wide range of new properties that will be available for first-time buyers as they take their first step on the housing ladder.

We are also helping bring back into use more brownfield land for development, keeping the country building and delivering the homes our communities need.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:

Helping young people achieve their dream of home ownership is a real priority for this government. We’ve already helped more than 100,000 households buy a home through our ground-breaking Help to Buy scheme and starter homes are another game-changer.

This fund will help kick-start that change and show young people across the country the quality they can expect when they buy a starter home. It’s further proof that this government’s long-term economic plan is on track, supporting the aspirations of hard-working people everywhere.

Andy Rose, Chief Executive of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), said:

The HCA is ready to support the government in delivering this key priority, which aims to set the standard for starter homes. By using our land and development expertise, we will help even more first-time buyers into affordable home ownership.

We look forward to working with our key delivery partners including councils, developers, housing associations, small builders and architects in taking this forward, through the identification and purchase of land suitable for exemplar starter home sites.

Stephen Stone, Chief Executive at Crest Nicholson

Initiatives which help support home ownership should be welcomed. Today’s announcement will not only help first time buyers get onto the property ladder, but it will also accelerate further output across the industry at a time when housing need is at an all-time high.

Ian Sutcliffe, Group Chief Executive of Countryside, said:

Countryside is very happy to support this exciting new initiative to increase home ownership opportunities.

Housebuilding is an important part of the government’s long-term economic plan with almost 800,000 additional homes provided since the end of 2009.

The government’s new Housing Bill and proposed national planning policy changes will introduce a series of planning reforms that will ensure hundreds of thousands of starter homes will be built for aspiring young homeowners. These include:

  • requiring local authorities to plan proactively for the delivery of starter homes
  • maximising the release of underused brownfield land to be used for starter homes
  • enabling communities to allocate land for the properties through their neighbourhood plans
  • bringing forward proposals to ensure every reasonably sized housing site includes a proportion of starter homes
  • promoting starter homes by bringing forward regulations that would exempt developers from levies that are sought when building homes, such as the Community Infrastructure Levy
  • monitoring how effective local authorities are in delivering starter homes developments

This will build on the work that local authorities are already carrying out through the local planning system with figures showing that the number of homes in locally led plans up by a quarter.

These show that before March 2012 the average number of homes planned for by local authorities stood at 573 per year. But radical reforms in the last Parliament put Local Plans and housing delivery at the heart of the planning system.

This has helped expand the housing pipeline with those Local Plans published after the reforms containing on average 717 homes per year – a 25% increase.

Further information

Starter homes will be offered exclusively to first-time buyers aged under 40 with a discount of 20% on market values.

The £26 million fund will be used to identify and purchase sites and prepare them in 2015 to 2016. This will enable more of the properties to be started in 2016 to 2017 and 2017 to 2018. The majority of the sites will be underused brownfield land, currently not allocated for housing.

The up to £10 million grant funding will be open to councils to assist them in bringing forward brownfield sites that are currently underused or vacant. It will help them carry out preparation, clearance and infrastructure work to make them viable for starter homes.

These are one-off funds designed to accelerate provision of starter homes.

The government has released a series of exemplar starter home designs to encourage developers to push for excellence when building the properties.

To date, 82% of local authorities (274) have published Local Plans and 64% (214) have adopted them – in contrast, 33% (112) of councils had published and 17% (59) adopted Local Plans in May 2010.

Councils have until 2017 to get Local Plans in place or the government will work with their communities to write one for them.

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Published 10 August 2015