Former government housing adviser Natalie Elphicke brands the Housing White Paper “technically strong rather than radical.”
Elphicke warns that a return to Whitehall building targets “could let London off the hook” and says “it’s not clear how protecting the green belt is going to be squared with falling London building rates and centrally set Whitehall targets.”
Responding to the Government’s housing white paper, Chief Executive of The Housing & Finance Institute and former government Housing Adviser, Natalie Elphicke, commented: “There are a large number of technical issues which the Housing White Paper sets out for consultation. This is a technically strong rather than a radical white paper.
“Planning reform over many years has resulted in hundreds of thousands of homes with planning permission. Building more homes faster requires effective infrastructure funding and utilities to deliver in line with development needs. The Housing & Finance Institute is leading a national housing infrastructure pilot in the South-east area in this area so welcomes the strong focus for housing infrastructure.
“Protections for renters is welcome. But millions of young people will be disappointed by a continuing focus on ‘build-to-rent’.
“The White Paper is a missed opportunity to create a step change in innovative finance and modern tenures like rent and buy which support building at scale but also provide housing choice and housing ownership.
“The government is right to support the building of homes at greater densities and to bring in fairer protection for tenants. These are two very practical measures to help Londoners. But the Government needs to be careful not let London off the hook by imposing biggest housing targets on the South-east and further straining infrastructure in those areas.
“It is simply wrong to imply that the Home Counties councils are not doing enough to support national housebuilding. Latest figures on registrations for new properties saw a 14% increase in the South-east but a 33% drop in London. London’s poor performance is yet again dragging down national housing growth. Without London, the national performance was up 4%. With London it is dragged down to 2% less than the previous year.
“Councils in the South-east may be left feeling muddled and confused about the Government’s White Paper. On the one hand, the government appears to have ruled out relaxing controls on green belt land. On the other hand, the threat of central government set housing targets could force the allocation of additional land for building, over and above the high targets for housing growth already in place. The imposition of much higher central housing targets on the South-east to make up for the continuing housebuilding failures of London could be bad news for that region.”