FAIRY HODMOTHER Theresa May will trigger housing boom and force councils to build thousands more homes each year to help families...
The PM will unleash a multi-pronged assault to solve the nation’s housing crisis
THERESA May is to force councils to build hundreds of thousands more homes a year in the most radical housing shake-up in 50 years.
The PM will target inner-city sites, stop big developers sitting on empty land and allow more prefabs to solve the homes crisis.
She aims to unblock the development logjam with a blueprint containing two particularly controversial elements.
The first will relax long-standing height restrictions based on light, allowing home owners and developers to extend or build houses as high as the existing tallest property on their block without special planning permission.
The second will see local authorities told the green belt is no longer sacrosanct for development. They will be encouraged to start building on it once brownfield sites have been filled.
No10 is braced for a bitter revolt among Tory shire backbenchers over the moves in the long-expected Housing white paper.
The plans, drawn up by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and Downing Street aides, are expected to be published next Tuesday.
MPs, charities and developers familiar with the Government’s thinking also disclosed the blueprint will:
TARGET open inner-city sites for development, such as railway station car parks which will move underground;
END the scourge of “land banking” by stopping fat cat developers from sitting on sites by either withdrawing planning permission or issuing the threat of compulsory purchase orders;
OPEN up development sites to many more small builders, who have been locked out by the big firms’ market dominance and lack of credit access
RESERVE sites for prefab builds, which can be erected far quicker but finished to look no different to brick buildings.
A key part of the plan is to demand councils in high pressure areas come up with far more ambitious building targets.
And if they fail, Whitehall will impose strict five-year quotas on them.
Until now some “not in my back yard” councils have infuriated ministers by hiding behind loopholes and falling well short on granting enough planning requests.
The average house price nationwide is 7.7 times annual wages.
In some parts prices are 12 times the value of annual wages, making it impossible for many to get on the housing ladder.
Ministers want to hit a target of 300,000 new homes a year to keep pace with Britain’s mushrooming population, as well as a Tory pledge to build a million new homes by 2020.
Mrs May will next week personally champion the house building revolution as the boldest reform yet in her agenda to deliver for the “Just Managings” who suffer most from unaffordable mortgages and rent.
Aides say she sees it as the most radical planning shake up since ex-Tory PM Harold Macmillan’s house building blitz in the 1960s.
The revelations come as the Nationwide Building Society revealed house prices jumped by another 4.3 per cent in the last year, taking the average to £205,240.
Prices are predicted to rise by three per cent this year.
One benefit to building upwards in towns will be to revive town centres, where shops have fallen vacant due to a lack of customers.
Easing height restrictions has long been called for by Tory MP John Penrose.
The former minister said: “At last it looks as though we are making progress.
“This change would regenerate hard-pressed high streets, make housing cheaper to rent and buy, reduce pressures to build on the precious green belt and would make it easier to find affordable accommodation in our wonderful cities and towns again.”
He added: “Cheaper homes are one of the most important ways of raising living standards for everyone”.
But the housing laws face a tough contest in the Commons.
Ex-Tory Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell has already warned the Government he will lead a rebellion to try to block any attempt to build on the green belt.
The Home Builders Federation issued a warning to ministers not to unfairly blame developers for the building logjam.
The HBF’s planning director Andrew Whitaker said: “Housebuilders do not land bank but it takes far too long to get sites to the point where builders can actually get on site and build.
“Onerous policies would not help and could actually reverse the increases in construction work and housing supply we have seen in recent years.”
Labour said the house building push should have been started already.
Shadow housing minister John Healey: “Millions are struggling with cost of housing crisis.
“Last year saw lowest level of new affordable house building for 24 years.
“After seven years of failure by Tory ministers, urgent action is overdue.”
A Government spokesman said: “We don’t comment on speculation.
“The Housing White Paper will be published shortly”.
NEW parents Darren Driver and Anna Loperfido dream of bringing up their daughter Isabella in their own home.
The couple pay £600 a month to rent a two-bed semi. They both work but are struggling to save with homes costing £250,000 in Soham, Cambs.
Care assistant Anna, 32, said: “I feel like we’re fighting a losing battle. House prices are too high. Our generation doesn’t stand a chance.”
EXASPERATED Andrew Cole, 28, was paid £30,000 a year but needed to earn 15 times that to afford a one-bed flat.
He gave up renting to move back with his family in Tooting, South London.
Even then he found it a battle to save such a huge sum. He said: “I’ve put my money into a bathroom business. It hopefully means I’ll get on the property ladder but realistically it will be at least five years.”
ART shop worker Rachel Falber, 29, lives with her 72-year-old mum in Bristol while saving for a deposit.
She said: “In the last year I’ve barely managed to save £1,000 towards a down-payment of £16,000. It could take five years to get there and house prices will be even higher by then.
“First-time buyers need more support from the banks. A tax break would be very helpful.”
ROMANIAN Marius Anghel has lived in the UK for ten years but houses here cost 12 times his salary.
He gets £30,000 a year as a builder and pays £700 a month rent plus £100 bills.
Single Marius, 39, of Canning Town, East London, said: “I’m not going buy unless I win the lottery. I’d like to earn more but there are pay caps in my industry. It’s wrong so many people can’t afford homes here.”