Small builders hope for uplift as government extends housing pilots
A desire to accelerate the supply of affordable housing has prompted the government to expand trials in direct commissioning.
Up to 30,000 new homes will be built on five government-owned sites across the UK.
In addition to the former RAF Oakington base in Northstowe, near Cambridge, the government will act as developer on sites in Dover, Chichester, Gosport and Old Oak Common in London. There is already planning permission for all the sites.
The Northstowe pilot was announced in December 2014, where the government’s Homes & Communities Agency is leading the development of 10,000 homes to fast-track the development. (See previous report here.)
The government described the extension of this pilot as “a radical new policy shift” not used on this scale since the early days of the London Docklands Development Corporation in the 1980s.
It said that by directly commissioning the building of homes on publicly owned land rather than selling the land to developers, it will result in “quality homes built at a faster rate”. It also believes that it will enable smaller building firms to get a bigger slice of the action.
Prime minister David Cameron said: “Today’s package signals a huge shift in government policy. Nothing like this has been done on this scale in three decades – government rolling its sleeves up and directly getting homes built.”
Communities secretary Greg Clark said: “Today’s radical new approach will mean the government will directly commission small and up-and-coming companies to build thousands of new homes on sites right across the country.”
The pilot for direct commissioning on publicly owned land will start in five sites:
- Northstowe in Cambridgeshire
- Connaught Barracks in Dover
- Lower Graylingwell in Chichester
- Daedelus on Waterfront in Gosport
- Old Oak Common in northwest London.
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has long been campaigning for smaller building firms to be helped into the house-building sector. Its chief executive Brian Berry said: “When it comes to building new homes, the availability of small sites is the single biggest barrier to SME house builders increasing their output. Any measures that the government can introduce that will increase the number of small sites suitable for SME house builders will help address the housing shortfall.
“It is also encouraging that the majority of these sites will already have planning permission in place as obtaining permission is all-too-often a lengthy and protracted process - avoiding this time delay should help house builders increase their supply much more quickly.”
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This article was published on 4 Jan 2016 (last updated on 6 Jan 2016).