Green light for the construction of thousands of Starter Homes in 2017

The Government has given the green light to the construction of thousands of new Starter Homes in 2017.

The first wave of 30 local authority partnerships – established under the government’s £1.2 billion Starter Homes Land Fund – will spearhead the schemes, which will be built exclusively for first-time buyers between 23 and 40 years old at a discount of at least 20% below market value.

“This government is committed to building Starter Homes to help young first time buyers get on the housing ladder,” said Housing Minister Gavin Barwell. “This first wave of partnerships shows the strong local interest to build thousands of Starter Homes on hundreds of brownfield sites in the coming years. One in three councils has expressed an interest to work with us so far.”

The Starter Homes Land Fund was set up to prepare suitable land for developments which can be built on by developers or through accelerated construction by 2020. Each local authority partnership will work closely with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to identify and take forward further land opportunities for the fund.

The HCA is also seeking expressions of interest from local authorities who want to use their land to deliver homes at pace through the £1.7 billion accelerated construction which will see up to 15,000 homes started on surplus public sector land this Parliament.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), welcomed the announcement but warned that greater challenges lie ahead if the housing crisis is to be solved.

“It’s great to see the housing minister kick off 2017 by giving the green light to the first Starter Homes,” he said.

“These homes will help some first-time buyers get a foot on the housing ladder, and our small house builders are enthusiastic about delivering on that vision, but starter homes will not be a panacea. A wider set of measures aimed at increasing the capacity of the house building industry are needed to overturn the long-term under-supply of new homes. Central to this must be getting small and medium-sized (SME) builders delivering more new homes. For instance, the announcement of 14 ‘garden villages’ and more garden towns needs to be backed up by implementation plans which provide opportunities to SME builders as well as the large companies.

“These are positive messages to start the year with and they show that the Government is putting house building at the front and centre of its ambitions for 2017. With a Housing White Paper expected in the next few weeks this will be an important year for housing policy and its success or failure will be a key part of the new PM’s legacy.”

Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), said that while the announcement “may feel like a welcome start” to 2017 “we need to see the plans put into swift action”.

“The dream of home ownership is too far out of reach for thousands of aspiring first time buyers (FTBs), and the building of new homes on disused brownfield sites, as well as a 20% discount for buyers aged 23-40 will go some way to bridging this gap,” he said.

“News that the Government will deliver 14 new ‘garden’ towns and villages outside of existing settlements will also relieve some of the pressure on supply and demand, which should in turn act as a catalyst to help FTBs fulfil their dreams of homeownership. However, we must not throw caution to the wind. The Government has made promise after promise and pledge after pledge to help FTBs get on to the housing ladder, but until we see these houses built we won’t hold our breath.”

The 30 Starter Home Land Fund partnerships are:

· Blackburn with Darwen Council

· Blackpool Council

· Bristol City Council

· Central Bedfordshire Council

· Cheshire West and Chester Council

· Chesterfield Borough Council

· Chichester District Council

· City of Lincoln

· Ebbsfleet Development Corporation

· Fareham Borough Council

· Gloucester City Council

· Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan)

· Lincolnshire County Council

· Liverpool City Council (in association with Sefton, Knowsley, Halton, Wirral, St Helens)

· Luton Borough Council

· Mid Sussex District Council

· Middlesbrough Council

· North Somerset Council

· Northumberland County Council

· Pendle Borough Council

· Plymouth City Council

· Rotherham Metropolitan Council

· Rushmoor Borough Council

· Sheffield City Council

· South Kestevan District Council

· South Ribble Borough Council (in association with Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council)

· South Somerset District Council

· Stoke-on-Trent City Council

· West Somerset Council (in association with Taunton Deane Borough Council, Sedgemoor District Council)

· Worthing Council

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