The government has announced plans to change the planning system to allow house-builders to develop under-used or unviable brownfield land and free them from planning costs and levies.
As part of the Starter Homes Initiative, which will offer new homes to100,000 first-time buyers, house-builders will benefit from changes to planning regulations in exchange for offering new homes at a minimum 20% discount exclusively to first time buyers, under the age of forty.
Builders can currently face an average bill of œ15,000 per home in Section 106 affordable housing contributions and tariffs, often adding tens of thousands to the cost of a site. Under the proposals, developers offering Starter Homes would be exempt from those Section 106 charges and Community Infrastructure Levy charges.
The Starter Homes Initiative was unveiled by the Prime Minister on December 15 and will see potential homeowners express their interest via a register to be launched at the start of 2015.
According to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), a number of councils and large house-builders are already backing the initiative, with more than 30 companies saying that they support the plans and would consider bringing forward land to develop the new, discounted houses, from next year.
Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said:
“Increasing housing supply is a huge and complex challenge and significant barriers remain. Bringing forward more land for house-building, while also enabling more first time buyers to realise their ambition of home ownership would be another positive step on the way to tackling the housing shortage.
“The industry is keen to work with government to develop policies that would allow for more high quality homes to be built in the right places.”
It has also gained support from the Federation of Master Buildings (FMB), with a number of FMB house-builders already pledging their support. Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said:
“We back the principle of this scheme which aims to enable more new homes to be brought forward and targeted at first time buyers, who are a crucial section of the market.
“The government’s recognition of the importance of boosting supply from smaller house-builders has been underlined by recent announcements extending the Builders Finance Fund to smaller sites and setting a ten unit threshold on affordable housing and tariff style planning obligations. It is crucial that the Starter Home Initiative will also be open to firms and sites of any size.”
“It is now important that we make sure that the details of the scheme ensure that the central objective – to deliver 100,000 new homes for first time buyers at 80% of market value – is realisable in practice. That’s why the FMB and 15 leading member firms have pledged to work with the government on the development of the Starter Homes scheme.”
Both developers and councils are being asked to respond to the proposals to ensure the changes will unlock a range of sites across the country.