Javid reaffirms pledge to build 300,000 new homes a year by launching housing agency

Industry bodies have today welcomed a new national housing agency launched by housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid, in a bid to get the country building more homes.

Homes England was introduced by the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government on a visit to a new housing development in Cambridgeshire earlier today. The agency will be replacing The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), a move which was first announced in February 2017 in the government’s housing white paper.  

In his speech at the launch, Javid said: “This government is determined to build the homes our country needs and help more people get on the housing ladder. Homes England will be at the heart of leading this effort.”

Extra emphasis is being placed on the housing market after Theresa May earmarked fixing the UK’s broken housing market as one of her key priorities. It’s hoped the move will help deliver the government’s target of an average of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s. 

Responding to today’s announcement, Julian Francis, the Association of Consultancy and Engineering’s director of policy and external affairs, said: “The announcement today is one that has been welcomed by ACE members as a sign of commitment by the government to tackling the housing crisis that we are facing. We would encourage Homes England to consider all options in the housing market and be prepared to champion new ways of delivery as greater competition can only improve the overall performance of the industry. Key to this will be engagement with local authorities; they must be engaged at the earliest stage to ensure projects do not encounter significant challenges during the planning process.”

"The government is determined to build more homes our country needs and help more people get on the housing ladder. Homes England will be at the heart of leading this effort."
Sajid Javid, housing and communities secretary

Javid has also revealed that Homes England will have “a lot more power” in the way of financial resources to ensure the move is simply not just a naming rebrand. Homes England will use the HCA’s planning experience along with new land buying powers to lock down useable land for houses. It will also support SME housebuilders and help source brownfield sites for housebuilding. While the housing secretary conceded increasing the current housebuilding level of around 217,000 to 300,000 is a “big ask”, Javid still feels it is “achievable”. 

Terrie Alafat CBE, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, welcomed today’s announcement. “The agency promises to bring together a greater range of strategic powers and resources, which combined with its expertise, will allow it to take new and innovative approaches which could make a real difference to get us building more homes at a crucial time,” Alafat added. “The key here is that the new homes are delivered by working closely with local partners to make sure we build the right homes, in the right places and that people can afford them.”

Melanie Leech, British Property Federation chief executive, said: “It’s clear there is growing momentum behind the government’s housing agenda and we are delighted with the continuing policy support for a multi-tenure approach to housing supply, creating great places and the remediation of land. This will be vital if the Housing white paper and the changes to the National Planning Policy Framework have any chance of making a significant impact on volume and affordability.”

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