Number 10 hosts influential housing group as May pushes to fix housing crisis

Helen Cahill
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2015 General Election - General Views
May has promised to take "personal charge" of housing (Source: Getty)

Theresa May's chief of staff met with influential property experts yesterday as Number 10 continued its push to fix the housing crisis.

The Home Builders Federation, which represents developers in England and Wales, met with Gavin Barwell to share the property industry's reaction to the Budget, and to discuss further possibilities for housing reform.

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Barwell, a former housing minister, was appointed as May's chief of staff after the snap General Election in a move that underlined her commitment to plugging the housing shortage.

Speaking to City A.M., HBF spokesperson Steve Turner said Barwell recognised the government needed to go further on planning reform to meet its stated target of building 300,000 homes a year. The HBF is also pushing for more clarity on what will happen to the government's Help to Buy scheme after 2021, when the programme ends.

The property group was generally positive about the housing reforms put forward in the Budget and Turner said the meeting showed the "commitment from the top" to housing.

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One of the more controversial measures announced yesterday was a government review into alleged land-banking by developers. Philip Hammond said the government will intervene if it finds firms are holding onto land illegitimately.

The HBF, whose members build 80 per cent of the new homes delivered each year, has long argued housebuilders do not hold onto land to push up house prices. However, Turner said the remit of the review will be relatively wide. Senior Conservative Oliver Letwin will look at the reasons for the gap between planning permissions and completions, but will not just focus on land-banking.

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