What can be done to boost new home building?

It’s been a difficult year for new home builders. Economic constraints such as high interest rates and a slow economy have impacted the number of construction starts. So, it might come as good timing that the HBF has released a new 10-point plan to boost the building of new homes.

In this article, we take a look at the recent dip in new home construction starts over the last few months and shed light on what the HBF is proposing…

New home construction starts show weak performance
One of the UK construction industry’s leading insight and intelligence experts, Glenigan, delivered its November 2023 Construction Review report recently. Focusing on the three months to the end of October 2023, the report highlighted a significant drop in the number of residential starts on-site. Private housing was shown to be down 25% on the previous year, and 22% behind the previous three months.

That said, there is some hope for industry recovery in 2024 with forecasters predicting around 8% growth. While construction starts have been on the decline, detailed planning approvals improved by 1% in the three months to the end of October. And with planning approvals up 17% compared to the year before, there is a degree of optimism around the number of construction starts improving.

Why the HBF has delivered a 10-point plan to boost new home building
Many in the housing industry felt disappointed after the King’s speech, when little was offered for the new homes sector by way of legislation changes. Alongside the current economic conditions, housebuilders in England face many barriers to building new homes. From planning policy to nutrient neutrality, even skills and education for those entering housebuilding, it’s felt that it is time to secure the industry’s future. The current obstructions to housebuilding have a major impact on not just housing supply in England, but also the longevity of housebuilders, especially those which are small to medium sized.
For this reason, the HBF has drafted a plan called Firmer Foundations to provide government ministers with ten proposed policies, or practical solutions, to remove the current barriers to building new homes.

The ten proposed policies in the Firmer Foundations plan
1.Use the increase in planning fees to sufficiently resource planning departments, especially since 2010, real terms funding of planning departments has fallen by more than 50%.
2.Require local authorities to have up-to-date local plans that meet local housing need by recognising the existence of a local plan in the funding formula for local government grants.
3.Work with industry to revise rules around nutrient neutrality, which is currently blocking around 145,000 new homes from being built. Quick and effective actions need to be identified to get mitigation schemes working effectively.
4.Take actions to make the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) fit for purpose. This should include reform of the CITB levy to ensure it includes key occupations for the industry, particularly those that will support the delivery of energy-efficient, sustainable new homes.
5.Focus post-16 education on employers’ needs.
6.Introduce a presumption in favour of development on small sites, up to 25 homes, on brownfield land within settlement boundaries. This could be done as part of the planned changes to the National Planning Policy Framework.
7.Reform the Standard Method to ensure new housing is delivered in a proportionate way across the whole country.
8.Strengthen the statutory duty on local planning decision makers to accord special attention to the need to plan for housing for older people in their local plans and housing needs assessments.
9.Abolish stamp duty for all purchases of all homes with an EPC rating of B or above.
10.Facilitate a roundtable between government, industry and lenders to explore the possible expansion of green/energy efficient mortgages.

To show how far the UK is falling behind its international counterparts when it comes to finding a home, the HBF recently produced its Housing Horizons report which you can read here.

For the latest new homes which either have been built or are in the process of being built, use our new home search tool. We list new build homes (houses and apartments) for sale from a wide cross section of housebuilders across the country. Get started with your new build home search here.

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