Housing minister outlines measures to release public land to help increase home building

Housing minister Grant Shapps has vowed to get ‘Britain building again’ following the publication of a new report that warns that home ownership could slump to its lowest level since the eighties.

Speaking following warnings by the National Housing Federation that home ownership could fall as low as 63.8% over the next decade, Shapps outlined a number of measures to release thousands of acres of public land to help increase the pace of home building.

According to the Guardian Shapps said: “House prices are too unaffordable in this country.

“The government’s responsibility is to respond to people’s aspirations and lots of people … want to own their own properties. I think the government should stand right behind them, and we will.

“Despite the need to tackle the deficit we inherited, this government is putting £4.5bn towards an affordable homes programme, which is set to exceed our original expectations and deliver up to 170,000 new homes over the next four years.

The NHF has called on ministers to make a renewed commitment to home-building, saying government investment in affordable housing would stimulate a wider, faster economic recovery and help boost the ailing housing market.

We are releasing enough government land to build Leicester twice over across the country

Grant Shapps, housing minister

It said suitable surplus public land should be made available for the building of affordable homes, and urged local authorities to assess their housing needs regularly.

House building in England is at its lowest level since the twenties, with just 105,000 built in 2010-11. Local authorities have scrapped plans for more than 220,000 new homes since the government announced the abolition of regional housing targets last year.

“We are releasing enough government land to build Leicester twice over across the country” Shapps added. “It is a massive programme. The new-homes bonus is a multibillion pound incentive to communities to build programmes, and we are hugely reforming the planning system, which is massively complex.”

Following the publication of the report, which was produced by Oxford Economic Forecast NHF chief executive David Orr said: “With home ownership in decline, rents rising rapidly and social housing waiting lists at a record high, it’s time to face up to the fact that we have a totally dysfunctional housing market.

“Home ownership is increasingly becoming the preserve of the wealthy and, in parts of the country like London, the very wealthy. And for the millions locked out of the property market the options are becoming increasingly limited as demand sends rents rising sharply and social homes waiting lists remain at record levels.”

Green groups have warned that pushing ahead with new planning rules without proper consultation could lead to a more congestion and urban sprawl across the UK.