The government wants to kick-start housebuilding with a £3bn housebuilders fund to support SMEs, custom builders and developers, communities secretary Sajid Javid announced today.
Javid, speaking at the Conservative Party Conference 2016, set the target of building one million new homes by 2020 with a focus on SMEs, modular housebuilding and regenerating brownfield sites.
The government will launch a white paper later in the year “with further significant measures”.
Javid said: “Ultimately we have a responsibility to build more houses – a responsibility not just to our constituents but to the next generation.
“It is for that reason that we are going to take some unprecedented steps to open up the market. Today we are opening up a massive £3bn homebuilders fund.
“This major package will help us build more than 225,000 new homes and will help create thousands of homes up and down the country.
“It will also help us get more SMEs building, it will encourage custom builders and it will allow developers to build the infrastructure that is needed to support new housing.”
He accused developers of holding a “stranglehold” on supply and told them to stop sitting on sandbanks.
He also pointed the finger at local leaders, whom he said must be prepared to make difficult calls in the face of nimbyism when it comes to granting housing permissions.
Javid made two further announcements.
He said an initiative called ‘accelerated construction on public land’ will be piloted that will see the government partner with contractors and investors to speed up housebuilding.
This should create new supply chains using offsite construction while Javid said measures will help start 15,000 new homes by 2021.
He also announced a “package of measures” encouraging urban regeneration and building on brownfield land.
He said: “We will take government-owned land and we will partner with contractors and investors to speed up housebuilding.
“We will create new supply chains using things like offsite construction, and we will encourage new models of building to make houses that people want more cheaply and at pace.”
He added: “We want to radically increase brownfield development and bring life back to abandoned sites.
“That means delivering high quality housing for families, bringing new energy to hour high streets and town centres, it means abandoned shopping centres being transformed into new communities and increasing the density of housing around stations to build homes that people want to live in.”
Paula Higgins, chief executive of HomeOwners Alliance, responded to the speech.
She said: “Government finally recognising that building new homes is where they need to focus to create a sustainable economy.
“It’s not just their moral duty to build these homes.
“We would remind ministers and home builders that it is also their moral duty to build homes that are fit for purpose; so high quality homes that meet the requirements of not only first-time buyers but of last-time buyers as well.
“We must build homes people would be proud to live in, not that make the most profit for the builder.
“More homes will not be enough to tackle the ever widening gap between wages and house prices and needs to look at ways to help the current generation that is priced out.”