The latest announcement from the House of Lords calling for 300,000 new homes to be built in Britain every year is 50 per cent greater than present Government targets.
This is figure is only going to highlight the need for homes, Brexit or no Brexit - according to planning specialists at Bruton Knowles.
Bruton Knowles Planning expert Paul Barton said: “The report demonstrates the huge scale of housing required to meet demand. Once present uncertainties within the development industry resolve themselves, the underlying demand will still be there and homes will be required to meet the demand.
“We applaud the House of Lords’ decision to get behind housebuilding - the report demonstrates the massive problem which the country is facing, but some of the details are questionable.
“For instance the Lord’s proposal that Council Tax should be paid on uncompleted projects- to try and speed up the completion of schemes- seems inherently unjust. To apply Council Tax - a tax on residential occupiers to be applied unoccupied land is confusing. Notwithstanding this it seems unfair to penalise housebuilders for a variable which is not solely within their control.
Should such a tax be introduced we can see a range of imaginative ways to avoid it. Delaying the submission of a planning application in the first place to applying for smaller schemes which developers are sure they can build. And or increased viability asessments which take into account the possibility of council tax. Such solutions are unlikely to meet the housing need and are likely to slow the supply of housing.
Further, the report recommends the Government allow local authorities to borrow more to fund social housing, and make it easier for local authorities to enter into partnerships with housing associations and institutional investors. Whilst this is laudable it may appear somewhat optimistic unless there is a seismic shift in the manner homes are presently delivered.”
He went on: “Following last year’s decision to overhaul housing association funding, they may not be enthusiastic about committing to new building projects while so much of their own funding depends on which way the wind is blowing from Westminster.
“We strongly believe the present uncertainty is temporary and that the underlying economy is more resilient than some commentators would have us believe. The private sector has been increasing the supply of housing over recent years and there are continued positives.
“By pegging or reducing interest rates the banks and building societies will be better placed to help borrowers. The banks themselves are in far better shape financially than they were 10 years ago.
“We have low unemployment and demand for houses – especially in the South and South East – remains strong.
“But while the House of Lords’ report states the private sector cannot deliver the new homes required on its own, their conclusion that local government and housing associations will necessarily step into the breach may be flawed – especially if you study the outcomes of the large scale building projects around the UK.
Paul said landowners considering putting blocks of land up for sale were having to judge prevailing trends very carefully and this is likely to continue in the short term, regardless of whether the findings of the House of Lords’ report are implemented or not.
“During the current uncertainty it is more important than ever to obtain the right advice as this could make all the difference between a successful scheme and an expensive rejection.”