Alok Sharma will deliver his first major public address since taking over from Gavin Barwell as housing and planning minister at RESI 2017, and Property Week has taken a look at topics he may cover.
In his keynote speech at the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales on 13-15 September, Sharma will provide the first real insight into how the government’s housing agenda has evolved since the snap general election and, critically, shed some light on the future of the housing white paper. Here are five topics we think the minister could, and should, cover:
1. The housing white paper
Since the housing white paper was published six months ago, little tangible progress has been made. This will be Sharma’s first opportunity to outline how he intends to deliver on the key points of the document.
2. Local authorities development plans
The white paper included measures to crack down on local authorities opposing development, including a requirement for them to have an up-to-date local plan and a housing delivery test to highlight local authorities that do not deliver the homes their areas need - will Sharma push these plans up the agenda in his speech at RESI?
3. Address the future of Help to Buy
Earlier this month, Property Week revealed that the government was embarking on a review of the Help to Buy scheme and had appointed the London School of Economics to conduct an independent evaluation. This will be Sharma’s first opportunity to outline the government’s plans for the review.
4. Brexit talks
Britain’s construction industry suffers from a skills shortage and Brexit could worsen the problem by cutting the flow of vital workers from the EU, does Sharma have a plan to ensure this doesn’t worsen the housing crisis.
5. Green belt
The government flirted with the idea of amending green-belt policy ahead of the white paper, but made no mention of it in the document itself - does Sharma have a plan for how he’s going to tackle the ongoing talking point?