Councils to get powers to pressure housebuilders and a change in approach for starter homes

The government is set to force councils to set out their local housing needs and give them powers to pressure housebuilders to get building, in its long-anticipated housing white paper due out today.

Ministers will admit England’s housing market is “broken” as they unveil a blueprint for building 250,000 homes a year.

The government is also expected to signal a change in focus for starter homes, with the scheme offering discounted homes for first-time buyers widened to include a bigger “range of affordable housing”.

Measures are set to include:

  • Forcing councils to produce an up-to-date plan for housing demand
  • Expecting developers to avoid “low density” housing where land availability is short
  • Reducing the time allowed between planning permission and the start of building from three to two years
  • Using a £3bn fund to help smaller building firms challenge major developers, including support for off-site construction, where parts of buildings are assembled in a factory
  • A “lifetime ISA” to help first-time buyers save for a deposit
  • Maintaining protection for the green belt, which can only be built on “in exceptional circumstances”

Communities secretary Sajid Javid will say: “Walk down your local high street today and there’s one sight you’re almost certain to see. Young people, faces pressed against the estate agent’s window, trying and failing to find a home they can afford.

“With prices continuing to skyrocket, if we don’t act now, a whole generation could be left behind. We need to do better, and that means tackling the failures at every point in the system.

“The housing market in this country is broken and the solution means building many more houses in the places that people want to live.”