Careful implementation of the government’s housing initiatives is vital - otherwise, there could be real problems in the long term
“We welcome the government’s strategy. A number of the initiatives are commendable, most notably the injection of funding for infrastructure to support the viability of development sites and the new build mortgage indemnity scheme in particular.
“However, there are a number of concerns. For example, the proposals for government to provide loan security for first time buyers will not address the issue of affordability in the long term.
“Moreover, the government needs to ensure that the housing ‘geography’ is right. It is imperative that housing is delivered where it is needed most. The latest ONS mid year estimates of population (released last week), highlight what should be the starting point for a joined up approach - a properly planned strategy for long term housing provision where it is needed now and in the future.
“The Right-to-Buy scheme is also a potential concern. It will grab headlines initially, but as we have seen from the eighties it removes much needed social housing from the system and may store up problems for the future.
“Getting schemes through the planning process remains a major issue - even given the prevailing desire to simplify the planning process. It is disconcerting that Mr Pickles has overturned three major planning applications in the last six weeks.
“We urgently need transitional arrangements whilst the planning system undergoes change and we need to ensure that local authorities have up to date local plans in place, setting out clear identified housing targets and housing sites.
“Overall, this strategy undoubtedly represents a short term agenda to kick-start the housing market. However there remains a need for a more fundamental restructure of the housing industry which addresses the systemic problems that have prevented us meeting housing demand and need over the last 10-15 years, well beyond the current issues that have arisen since the credit crunch. We look forward to that debate.”
Gerry Hughes is a senior director at GVA