Guidance

Starter Homes

Advises on the national Starter Homes exception site policy.

Planning practice guidance will, where necessary, be updated in due course to reflect changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (the new version of which was published in July 2018). Where any hyperlinks direct users to the previous National Planning Policy Framework (2012), please disregard these. If you’d like an email alert when changes are made to planning guidance please subscribe.

Where plans are being prepared under the transitional arrangements set out in Annex 1 to the revised National Planning Policy Framework, the policies in the previous version of the framework published in 2012 will continue to apply, as will any previous guidance which has been superseded since the new framework was published in July 2018.

Starter Homes

What is the Starter Homes exception site policy?

The written ministerial statement sets out how the Starter Homes exception sites policy helps to meet the housing needs of young first time buyers, many of whom increasingly cannot afford to buy their own home, by allowing Starter Homes to be offered to them at below their open market value. The exception site policy enables applications for development for Starter Homes on under-used or unviable industrial and commercial land that has not been currently identified for housing. It also encourages local planning authorities not to seek section 106 affordable housing and tariff-style contributions that would otherwise apply. Local planning authorities should work in a positive and proactive way with landowners and developers to secure a supply of land suitable for Starter Homes exception sites to deliver housing for young first time buyers in their area.

Paragraph: 001 Reference ID: 55-001-20150318

Revision date: 18 03 2015

What are the key characteristics for a Starter Home?

A Starter Home is expected to be well designed and suitable for young first time buyers. Local planning authorities and developers should work together to determine what size and type of Starter Home is most appropriate for a particular Starter Home exemption site reflecting their knowledge of local housing markets and sites. A Starter Home is not expected to be priced after the discount significantly more than the average price paid by a first time buyer. This would mean the discounted price should be no more than £250,000 outside London and £450,000 in London.

Paragraph: 002 Reference ID: 55-002-20150318

Revision date: 18 03 2015

Who is eligible for a Starter Home?

Local planning authorities should put in place planning obligations to ensure that Starter Homes are offered for sale at a minimum of 20% below its open market value of the property. Such properties are expected to be offered to people who have not previously been a home buyer and want to own and occupy a home, and who are below the age of 40 at the time of purchase.

Paragraph: 003 Reference ID: 55-003-20150318

Revision date: 18 03 2015

How will the minimum 20% discount for Starter Homes be funded?

To deliver the minimum 20% discount, local planning authorities should not seek section 106 affordable housing contributions, including any tariff-based contributions to general infrastructure pots, from developments of Starter Homes. Local planning authorities will still be able to seek other section 106 contributions to mitigate the impact of development to make it acceptable in planning terms, including addressing any necessary infrastructure. Local planning authorities will also be eligible for the New Homes Bonus on Starter Homes.

Paragraph: 004 Reference ID: 55-004-20150318

Revision date: 18 03 2015

How should the discount and age restriction for Starter Homes be enforced?

On Starter Homes exception sites, local planning authorities should include in the relevant section 106 agreement a requirement on the developer to offer Starter Homes to a first time buyer under the age of 40 for a discount of at least 20% below the open market value of the property, and for there to be appropriate restrictions to ensure that Starter Homes are not resold or let at their open market value for 5 years following the initial sale. Local planning authorities should enforce these planning obligations in the usual way.

Paragraph: 005 Reference ID: 55-005-20150318

Revision date: 18 03 2015

What is the role of the national Starter Homes register and how should local planning authorities use it?

The national Starter Homes Register, managed by the Home Builders Federation allowing first time buyers to register their interest in the scheme, provides a valuable source of information about potential demand for Starter Homes and identifying who may be eligible for Starter Homes developments. Local planning authorities can use this as evidence when developing their Local Plan and associated documents. It will also allow those registering to receive information about Starter Homes sites as they start to emerge.

Paragraph: 006 Reference ID: 55-006-20150318

Revision date: 18 03 2015

What land is suitable for Starter Homes exception sites?

Starter Homes exception sites are expected to be on land that has been in commercial or industrial use, and which has not currently been identified for residential development. Suitable sites are likely to be under-used or no longer viable for commercial or industrial purposes, but with remediation and infrastructure costs that are not too great so as to render Starter Homes financially unviable.

The types and sizes of site suitable for Starter Homes are likely to vary across the country, and will reflect the pattern of existing and former industrial and commercial use as well as local market conditions. Land in both public and private ownership can be considered.

Where applications for Starter Homes come forward on such exception sites, they should be approved unless the local planning authority can demonstrate that there are overriding conflicts with the National Planning Policy Framework that cannot be mitigated.

Paragraph: 007 Reference ID: 55-007-20150318

Revision date: 18 03 2015

What are underused or unviable industrial and commercial sites?

Local planning authorities can take into account a number of factors when assessing whether an industrial or commercial site is underused or unviable. Indicators may include whether:

  • the land value for the site is significantly below that of other sites with a similar permitted use in the area;
  • there is a high percentage of vacant units, and whether these have been vacant for some time;
  • land allocated for employment use has not been marketed actively for some period of time or, if actively marketed, has failed to attract any interest over a reasonable period of time; and
  • there has been a lack of recent development activity to improve the commercial or industrial site.

Employment land which is being used productively or which is allocated and viable for employment purposes is not to be regarded as underused or unviable.

Paragraph: 008 Reference ID: 55-008-20150318

Revision date: 18 03 2015

Should Starter Homes be allowed on land allocated for industrial or commercial use in local plans which has not been developed?

Land allocated for industrial or commercial use in local or neighbourhood plans can be used for Starter Homes where this land is underused or unviable for those purposes. Local planning authorities should keep allocated employment land under regular review as required under paragraph 22 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Paragraph: 009 Reference ID: 55-009-20150327

Revision date: 27 03 2015 See previous version

How should local planning authorities deal with Starter Homes as part of their five year housing supply?

Local planning authorities should work with landowners and developers to secure a supply of Starter Homes exception sites suitable for housing for first time buyers. As such homes will come forward as windfall sites, local planning authorities should not make an allowance for them in their five-year housing land supply until such time as they have compelling evidence that they will consistently become available in the local area. Local planning authorities can count Starter Homes against their housing requirement.

See related policy: paragraph 47

Paragraph: 010 Reference ID: 55-010-20150318

Revision date: 18 03 2015

What are the design requirements for Starter Homes developments?

Starter Homes developments should be well designed and of a high quality, and developers are expected to work with local planning authorities and local communities to achieve this.

The government’s Design Advisory Panel, involving leading industry experts, has published an initial set of exemplar designs for Starter Homes for wider comment. The Panel’s exemplars show good design in a local context. Starter Home developments do not have to conform to these exemplars, but planning applications for Starter Homes are expected to include sufficient design details, including visual material similar in scope to that set out in the Panel’s document, so that communities can see the quality of homes being offered when they are submitted for consideration.

Paragraph: 011 Reference ID: 55-011-20150327

Revision date: 27 03 2015 See previous version

Can market homes be built on Starter Homes sites?

Local planning authorities can use their discretion to include a small proportion of market homes on Starter Homes exception sites where it is necessary for the financial viability of the site. The market homes on the site will attract section 106 or Community Infrastructure Levy contributions in the usual way.

Paragraph: 012 Reference ID: 55-012-20150318

Revision date: 18 03 2015

Published 27 March 2015