The Government has recently announced a levelling up plan aimed at transforming the UK, spreading opportunity and prosperity to more areas and closing the national income gap. The Levelling Up White Paper, which includes 12 national, cross-societal missions to be achieved by 2030, represents a long-term plan to see nationwide disparities narrow in regard to employment and pay, transport, crime, broadband, education and property.
Planning and property development is a key component of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. What changes will the industry face according to the long-awaited White Paper?
- Home ownership will be boosted through the launch of the £1.5 billion Levelling Up Home Building Fund, providing loans to SMEs and helping them deliver 42,000 new houses across the country in areas that are a priority for levelling up.
- Plans are in place to abandon the highly controversial ‘80/20’ rule, which sees some Homes England housing funds channelled to areas of significant unaffordability, resulting in London and the South East receiving a disproportionate level of funding.
- Increased funding is being made available for housing supply at brownfield sites in the North and Midlands.
- There will be a large shift of power and money from Whitehall to local leaders.
- Further commitment is being made to develop genuinely affordable social housing – delivering on the commitments the government made following the Grenfell tragedy in 2017.
The findings in the White Paper have been met with favourable reviews by the property industry:
Rico Wojtulewicz, NFB housing and planning policy head, commented: “The government has promised this level of funding previously but as it has not understood the planning and lending process, South East where there are more barriers to gaining planning permission despite acute housing shortage need.”
Nicholas Christofi, Managing Director of Sirius Property Finance, commented: “It’s great to see the government’s intent to support SMEs by making them the focus of their levelling up plans and the agile and adaptable nature of these smaller housebuilders should pay dividends when it comes to improving the prosperity of our nation.
“That said, there’s no ‘new money’ in today’s loan announcement of £1.5 billion, so let’s hope that the government continues to provide support to SME housebuilders on an ongoing basis, not just via a few initial, headline-grabbing gestures.”
Dean Williamson, Director of LW Developments, said: “It’s great to see the government work to prioritise housing across the country. However, levelling up risks being devalued without a clear, long-term strategy in place, including funding, supply, skills and priority.
“It’s important that we consider the whole picture when it comes to solving the housing crisis in the UK, and planning is fundamental to the economic development and regeneration process.”
With a goal to aid levelling up, it’s important to put initiatives in place respective to each area, by supporting the private sector in the North and Midlands while reducing disparity and improving living standards in the South. To attain the goal of supplying more homes through high demand, it’s crucial to concentrate on northern production and southern consumption.
Now that we have been made aware of the government’s levelling up aspirations for the property industry, LW Developments are looking forward to contributing 250 homes in the upcoming five years to keep up with further increased demand in South East England.
For more information about our upcoming projects, click here.
Dean Williamson MRICS