Can the new government stick to its house-building promises?

27/06/2017

Rishi Banerjee, Property Team

Following a snap general election and turbulent Cabinet reshuffle, we have now a new housing minister, Alok Sharma.

Can the new government stick to its house-building promises?

Following a snap general election and turbulent Cabinet Office reshuffle, we have now a new housing minister, Alok Sharma.

Sharma - the fifteenth housing minister in 20 years - is the man in charge of delivering on the government’s oft-repeated promise of a million UK homes in the next two and half years.

Under the combined portfolio, Sharma will be responsible for housing and home-ownership policy, as well as the planning policy that underpins it. In addition, other important parts of the portfolio, including estates regeneration and regulation of the private rented sector.

Sharma will also have to act upon the housing white paper that aims to diversify the supply of new homes and revitalise the SME house-building sector. SME house builders have pinned their hopes on him because he has spoken out against late payments for SMEs and so view him as a champion in their corner.

If you have a brief look back in history, Sharma is all about “sustainable development” - but that means he’s likely to keep protection of greenbelt land on the housing agenda, which means more problems for housebuilders.

He has also backed localism in planning. During a debate on the draft national planning policy framework in 2011, he said a top-down approach to planning “did not work”, arguing it did not deliver sustainable development under Labour between 1997 and 2010. Yet, the jury is out on the localism agenda, as Sharma is not in favour of devolving powers to regional councils.

It’s a tough gig to inherit and we will now have to wait and see how focused he is on delivering those targets or whether the numbers that were previously promised were merely political incentives to bring in the votes. 


 

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