Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg, with the Prime Minister, has launched a new housing strategy to boost the economy and create jobs.
The new programme includes measures to build new affordable homes, freedom for homeowners to renovate and extend, more help for first time buyers, and greater freedom and security for developers.
Nick Clegg said:
“At the moment there are hundreds of sites where nothing’s happening, nothing is being built, and not a single person is being employed. We need to do all we can to ensure these empty sites become places buzzing with activity where people are being employed and the homes are being built.
“We’re removing some of the bureaucracy and hassle surrounding construction and get house builders to put shovels in the ground.
“And importantly, the Liberal Democrats are ensuring that the Government will spend an extra £300m in order to build up to 15,000 affordable homes.
“This is about helping homeowners, helping those people aspiring to own their own home, dealing with the housing crisis and importantly giving help to house builders so they can create jobs and get Britain building again.”
The Liberal Democrats have secured £300m from the Treasury to build up to 15,000 new affordable homes. This is in addition to £4.5bn the Coalition Government has already committed, along with £15bn private investment, to deliver 170,000 new affordable homes over this spending review period.
The Coalition will also ensure that another 5,000 empty homes are brought back into use on top of the current empty homes programme which will bring over 11,000 homes back into use, at a cost of £160m.
There are currently around 75,000 new homes with planning permission that aren’t being built. Developers tell us that this is because the requirement to build affordable homes is making house building less profitable at the moment. Under the measures announced today, developers that can show that they’re sitting on unprofitable sites will be able to negotiate with councils to reduce the number of social houses they have to build. This is a time-limited offer that applies to schemes that are shovel-ready but being held up. This will provide a real shot in the arm for house builders and the housing sector.
These measures are on top of the £570m Get Britain Building fund which aims to unblock stalled sites with the capacity for up to 16,000 homes, and the £770m invested in infrastructure for housing and growth through the Growing Places Fund.
There will be a large cash injection of £280m for FirstBuy, the shared equity scheme which brings buying a house within the reach of first time buyers. This scheme has been very successful so far – 10,000 people have taken it up. So we’re extending FirstBuy to a further 16,500 first-time buyers to help them buy houses by March 2014. Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government want to help first time buyers to get onto and move up the housing ladder.
£10bn in guarantees for developers
The Coalition Government is introducing legislation giving the Treasury power to guarantee large infrastructure projects. Under this legislation, the Coalition will put up £10bn of guarantees to housing associations, property management companies and developers which will be able to use the guarantees to secure lower borrowing costs. This will lead to hundreds of thousands of extra rental homes being built.
Help for homeowners
Under the new Permitted Development Rights, it will be easier for homeowners to put in a new conservatory, loft extension or garage conversion without getting mired in red tape.
Until 2015, people will be allowed to build larger extensions on houses, and shops and offices will be able grow up to the boundary of their premises. There will be a consultation before this is implemented later in the year and restrictions will still apply in conservation and other sensitive areas.
The Liberal Democrats remain committed to the Green Belt. It is a vital green lung around our major towns and cities. This package doesn’t make top-down changes to the Green Belt – it encourages councils to look at powers they already have to sustainably review the Green Belt in their areas, in response to local circumstances.