New UK housing zones widely welcomed

Taylor Scott International News

Twenty areas across the UK have been selected as the country’s first Housing Zones amid a pledge to build hundreds of thousands of new homes in the next five years, including more affordable properties. In the annual Budget Statement it was also announced that in London there will be nine new housing generation areas with the aim of building 28,000 new homes on brown field and public sector land. A London Land Commission will be created and tasked with identifying the best places to build and there will be strong incentives to dispose of public land for housing use. The government also announced that it wants communities to have a strong say over how their local area is developed. It confirmed it will support locally led plans for two more Garden Communities at Basingstoke and North Northants. The British Property Federation, an early supporter of housing zones, welcomed the plans. ‘Spending cuts have meant that support for brown field development all but disappeared during the recession. Housing Zones are welcome recognition that we can deliver significant amounts of desperately needed housing on brown field land, but that this will often need both central government support and clarity of purpose at local level,’ said chief executive Melanie Leech. Any building that takes place on brown field sites, rather than in open countryside must be welcome, according to Edward Heaton of Heaton and Partners property search agency who pointed out that around the UK and even in London it is surprising how many potential sites remain unlocked because of planning policy. But he pointed out that extra funding for new homes will not completely solve the housing crisis. Alison Platt, chief executive of Countrywide, one of the largest property services group in the UK, wants the government to go further. ‘Our analysis shows that there is land for 500,000 homes within walking distance of the train stations in the greenbelt around our cities. We ask the government to review the greenbelt with a vision to freeing up appropriate land for development,’ she said. ‘Last week we put forward 10 proposals to make the property market work better. We believe there is not yet enough clarity in the debate to impact policy and see structural shifts in both the residential and commercial property markets. We want to encourage debate around these proposals and any other solutions to our property market troubles, to get to a position where real positive change is possible,’ she added. According to Rick de Blaby, chief executive of London developer United House Developments, said that cutting the red tape strangling London development is key to this announcement. ‘The Chancellor and the Mayor need to ensure that the delivery of public sector land and brownfield sites to developers is backed by an efficient, lean machine to free up this land to avoid the delays currently snarling up the system,’ he explained. Nicholas Leeming, chairman of national estate agents,… Continue reading →

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