It is a year since the housing white paper.
Since the paper’s publication, housing sector issues have taken centre stage in national and local politics and there are some promising signs of movement in the right direction.
What is needed now is an evaluation of the white paper’s promises and an analysis of what has been delivered. At Great Marlborough Estates, we believe that many of the reforms have been delivered and that we are on the road to housing success. However, this journey is not yet complete and the government needs to ensure that existing reforms are evaluated while pushing ahead with the others.
The paper’s proposals were wide-ranging, including protecting the greenbelt, diversifying the construction industry, cracking down on unfair leasing procedures, dropping the time on permissions from three to two years, promoting modular construction and reforming the planning system.
Of course, not everything has been delivered. However, there has been a lot of activity (maybe too much when it comes to the revolving door of housing ministers). For instance, in December there was a crackdown on unfair leasehold practices to stop the excessive ground rents on long leases. In addition, the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 aimed to clarify bottom-up local planning processes, compulsory purchase and local development documents to enable a speedier and more effective planning process. While these policies may not be perfect, it shows a commendable proactive response.
The next steps should include further evolutions in the legal arena. How can we create tenancies for those who want flexibility while maintaining investor certainty? How can we gear our planning system to promote growth and not pose hurdles? Should we start to re-evaluate the green belt? How can we encourage affordable housing and improve the capacity of local authorities and housing associations? These are the questions we need to keep engaging with in order to solve the housing crisis.