Starter Homes: Cracks in the plaster
Commercial Property Solicitor, Robbie Mather, reports on the subtle signs of a policy shift from the Government regarding Starter Homes.
The first subtle signs of a policy shift from the Conservative pledge to deliver 200,000 Starter Homes by 2020 may have surfaced during the new Housing and Planning Minister’s first major speech.
Speaking at the RESI conference in Wales on 13 September 2016, Gavin Barwell MP and Minister of State for Housing and Planning said “we need to build more homes of every single type and not focus on one single tenure”. This statement appears to go against the ethos of the Starter Homes policy which was to deliver new homes to buy at a discounted price.
Acknowledging the shortcoming of the Starter Homes policy, which excludes tenures other than ownership, the Minister confirmed “the way you make housing in this country more affordable to rent and buy is you build more homes. There is still a role for the government doing specific things to help people on to the first rung but this can’t be at the exclusion of all else”.
Making specific reference to the booming rental sector the Minister confirmed that “the private rented sector is the fastest growing tenure, but had been overlooked under old policy. This is the first step in putting that right."
How the intentions of the Minister will make their way into planning policy is unclear at this stage as is the future of Starter Homes. What is clear is that the Government has indicated both a shift away from an over-reliance on home ownership and a move towards supporting new housing across a range of tenures.
Changing planning policy is a Minister’s prerogative and it is positive to see the Government responding to the housing market which is clearly showing an expanding private sector rental market.
About the author
Robbie is a Partner and head of the Commercial Property team.