I would like to update hon. Members on some of the recent actions that the coalition government is taking on housing delivery, as part of our long-term economic plan.
Helping councils build more homes
The government is pleased to announce the publication of the report on the independent review into the role of local authorities in housing supply, carried out by Natalie Elphicke and Councillor Keith House: “From statutory provider to housing delivery enabler: review into the local authority role in housing supply”.
The government welcomes the report, which found that local authorities could do more to play a central role in supporting the provision of new homes, across all housing tenures.
As set out in last year’s Autumn Statement, the government welcomes the core recommendation in the review that councils should become housing delivery enablers. The government also accepts the proposal that it should consult on extending the local government Transparency Code to cover all Housing Revenue Account land. We also accept other key recommendations including that the government monitors schemes to support small builders, and considers strengthening advice to encourage more councils to pro-actively support neighbourhood planning.
Additionally, the review makes a number of interesting recommendations for local authorities to pro-actively use existing powers, levers and opportunities, including periodically testing value for money from their contracts. Local authorities and local councillors will be able to consider how best to take these proposals forward within their existing resources. The review makes a number of further recommendations that government considers interesting, including some that need further detailed consideration with partners as appropriate. We will consider these proposals separately in due course.
Ministers would like to put on record their thanks to Natalie Elphicke and Keith House for their dedication and hard work in carrying out this review.
Rewarding councils for house building
On 16 December 2014, we announced provisional New Homes Bonus allocations for local authorities. The representation period closed on 14 January 2015. We received 12 representations. These have been taken into account in finalising the figures.
We will pay £1.2 billion of New Homes Bonus to local authorities in England. This includes instalments from the previous 4 years of the Bonus. These allocations bring the total amount of funding awarded under the New Homes Bonus since it began in April 2011 to £3.4 billion. This total recognises delivery of over 700,000 homes, and over 100,000 empty properties being brought back into use.
The Bonus will be paid in respect of 165,000 homes from October 2013 to October 2014 including 155,000 extra homes and 10,000 long-term empty properties brought back into use. The allocations also include an affordable homes enhancement, which totals £15 million in respect of 43,000 new affordable homes. The department is writing to local authorities confirming their final allocations and I am writing to all Members of Parliament and local authority leaders in England.
Building homes on brownfield land
The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear the need to prioritise building on previously-used brownfield land and more than two thirds of all new homes are now built on brownfield sites. But the government wants to go further – and has set a clear ambition to have local development orders in place for new homes on over 90% of suitable brownfield land by 2020.
Today (28 January 2015), we are announcing a multi-million pound fund to help deliver 200,000 new homes on brownfield sites across the country. This will enable councils to bring forward brownfield sites of 100 homes or more in their area – making it quicker and easier for developers to get work started.
Planning permissions granted through local development orders will give the green light for new homes to be built on those sites and will let developers get planning permission quickly – getting workers on site quicker and homes that communities want built.
The government will also publish proposals for the collection, sharing and reporting of information by local authorities on suitable brownfield land. Information would be updated at least annually, and would enable local residents to see the land that is available for new homes in their area – and to challenge councils to get work started.
Strengthening shared ownership
This week we will be publishing, with the Homes and Communities Agency, a technical consultation on proposals to streamline the resale of shared ownership properties. This builds on our commitment in the Autumn Statement to work with housing associations, lenders and the regulator to identify and lift barriers to extending shared ownership.
All shared ownership homes funded through the Affordable Homes Programme (outside London) include a pre-emption right in the lease which secures the housing provider’s ability to nominate a subsequent purchaser for current and former shared ownership homes.
In some cases, this right of pre-emption has raised barriers to selling on. It can lengthen the selling process; can deter buyers; and lenders can view it as hampering the ability to realise the value of the home for the householder, and hence restrict their lending in this market.
We will be seeking views on a range of options on the pre-emption right; evidence on the operation of the current pre-emption right; other methods used to retain homes within shared ownership at the time of selling on; and how we might streamline the process for selling on shared ownership properties and encourage the market for second-hand shared ownership homes.
Since the end of 2009, we have delivered over 700,000 new homes across England. There is still more to do to, but this illustrates how this government’s long-term economic plan is building more houses, giving more power to local communities, and helping people move on to and up the housing ladder.
Copies of the documents associated with these announcements will be placed in the Library of the House.