UK starter homes initiative could create infrastructure shortfall

Taylor Scott International News

UK Government plans to create 100,000 cut-price homes for first time buyers risks creating a shortfall in local infrastructure, according to the British Property Federation (BPF) has warned. In its response to a government consultation on its ‘Starter Homes’ initiative, the BPF said that exempting developers from providing necessary infrastructure could mean that other sites in the area will find themselves under additional pressure to cope with a resulting shortfall in amenities. While praising the government for its ambitious approach to increasing the supply of housing, the trade body said the overall effect of the proposals may hold back development in surrounding areas. The BPF suggested that there should perhaps be the option for developers to provide some of the necessary infrastructure in exceptional circumstances, over and above the contributions suggested for site-specific development mitigation. The initiative proposes to bring forward 100,000 homes for first time buyers. Developers will be encouraged to see the homes at a discounted rate in return for building on brownfield sites and being exempt from infrastructure requirements. ‘While the Starter Homes initiative is welcome and holds a lot of potential, the detail does need to be worked through more carefully if it is to work in practice,’ said Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation. ‘Infrastructure is vital for places to succeed – not only transport infrastructure, but space for people to work and relax, and the right social infrastructure for a healthy society. Many brownfield sites are lacking in amenities, so we would urge government to act carefully to make sure that starter homes do not hamper the wider growth of their surrounding areas,’ she added. Meanwhile, the property industry has today backed Labour’s plans to consider designating large scale housing as national infrastructure. Labour’s draft remit for a new National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) sets out 10 national infrastructure goals. It includes making sure that the enabling infrastructure is in place to support rapid housing development and that housing investment is integrated with investment in transport and utilities. The British Property Federation has consistently lobbied government to include residential into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Plan (NSIP) regime, repeatedly pointing out that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) advocates mixed-use development, and that sustainable communities need to include a mix of both commercial and residential units. Including a provision for residential in the NSIP regime could help unlock significant amounts of much needed housing development. ‘If we are to deliver housing at scale at the same time as creating commercial hubs that will drive economic growth, we need to encourage the development of well connected, mixed use communities where people can both live and work. Including residential within the NSIP process would be a significant step forward in this respect, and we hope that whoever is in power after the next election takes this forward,’ said Leech. Continue reading →

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