UK house prices: Sorry, but right now the UK can't meet its target of building 240,000 homes a year, says House of Lords National Policy for the Built Environment Committee

 
Emma Haslett
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The government can't rely on private sector builders, the report said (Source: Getty)

The UK won't hit the government's 240,000-a-year housebuilding target by relying on the private sector, according to a new report - which also warned so-called starter homes shouldn't be classed as affordable housing.

The report, by the House of Lords' National Policy for the Built Environment committee, said the government must give local authorities and housing associations a bigger role in housebuilding - or it won't make the "step-change" required to increase housing supply enough to deliver on its promise to build one million more homes by 2020.

It also said because starter homes will increase in value so quickly once they are sold, it'll take less than five years for them to no longer be considered "affordable" - meaning they shouldn't be classed under that definition in the first place.

Read more: One million homes by 2020 will be yet another failed target if we don't change policy radically

The report raised concerns over the government's emphasis on speed of delivery, saying the quality of the homes built is suffering as a result.

"We are concerned that the focus on quantity of housing must not work to the long-term detriment of planning for the whole of the built environment and the delivery of high quality development," it said.

"Moves towards deregulation of the planning system, coupled with an intensification of housebuilding, have the potential to exert significant enduring impacts upon the built environment in England."

The committee made recommendations including greater co-ordination and integration across the government departments overseeing housing, and giving the Cabinet Office a greater role in addressing policy co-ordination.

It also suggested appointing a chief built environment adviser, a recognised expert appointed from within the sector to lead the work.

“It is increasingly clear that we need to build more houses in England and we wholeheartedly support that objective. However if we build those houses in the wrong place, to a poor standard, without the consent of local communities we are only storing up future misery for the people in those houses and others nearby," said Baroness O'Cathain, the committee's chairman.

“That is why we are recommending local authorities are once again empowered both to build new homes of their own, and to ensure all developments are of a suitably high quality. Spending a little bit extra on good quality design at the outset can avert massive costs to people, society and government in the long-run."

One million homes by 2020: How the government can hit its target

The report made seven recommendations:
  • Don't class starter homes as "affordable" - they'll be unaffordable within five years
  • Reconsider elements of the Housing and Planning Bill which "undermine" mixed communities
  • Appoint a chief built environment officer to champion higher standards
  • Reverse the decision to scrap the zero carbon homes requirement and the code for sustainable homes
  • Create a strategy to manage the historic built environment
  • Make a design review mandatory for all major planning applications
  • Provide better resources for local authority planning departments. "The planning profession needs to rediscover the prestige it once had"

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