05 March 2018
Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans to kick start England’s moribund house-building market by rewriting planning laws to make it easier for developments to be built.
She also threatened action against developers who were “hoarding” land by getting planning permission and then not building houses and, instead, hanging on to the land until its value increased.
Mrs May said the cost of housing in parts of the UK, both for ownership and rent, was reinforcing economic divisions and leading to growing social immobility, with workers – particularly in the public sector – unable to take jobs in certain parts of the country. The prime minister said in a speech National Planning Conference that the government would establish a nationwide standard setting out how many homes councils needed to plan for in their area, with provisions to prioritise affordable homes “key workers”.
Mrs May said young people were “right to be angry” at not being able to buy a home and that ownership of property was largely unaffordable to those without the support of “the bank of mum and dad”. This disparity was entrenching social inequality and “exacerbating divisions between generations”, she said.
Her comments came as figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders showed the average deposit for first-time buyers in the UK stands at £25,896, though with huge regional variations. First-time buyers in London are looking at an average deposit of about £98,000, while the figure is Wales – which, like Scotland, has devolved housing powers – the figure is about £15,000.
Mrs May, whose government wants to see 300,000-plus homes built a year – almost twice the current rate – said the continuing shortage of housing in England was partly the blame of developers, who she said had a “perverse” financial incentive to hoard land once it had been approved for development rather than actually build on it.