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Countrywide, the UK’s largest property services and estate agency group, has launched a research paper outlining 10 recommendations for a healthier UK property market.
Tonic for tomorrow: proposals for a healthier UK property market focuses on both the commercial and residential markets and is a working document developed by the research teams at Countrywide Group.
The paper highlights the evolving structural problems in the UK property market and proposes possible solutions. It aims to stimulate debate among leading practitioners, trade bodies, academics and government with the intention of arriving at a workable list of policies to improve the operation of UK property markets in the future.
The proposals, five of which specifically affect new build development are outlined below, focus on building more homes to accommodate a growing population and adding certainty and flexibility to the planning system.
Johnny Morris, Head of Research at Hamptons International comments:
“The demographic, cultural and technological changes affecting the UK property market, many of which have accelerated in pace in recent years, will have a profound impact on how both residential and commercial markets work in the future. Our proposals are aimed at ensuring the property market operates efficiently and seeking out the fairest solutions to the changing needs of the country.”
Boosting the New Homes Bonus
“The new homes bonus has funnelled £3.3bn to local authorities since 2011 and nearly six per cent of central government grant to local authorities will come from the new homes bonus in 2015/16. Linking local government income and new home delivery could be a significant step towards creating local support for getting more homes built.”
Redefining Greenbelt for modern needs
“The supply of new homes is particularly constrained in and around our growing cities. There are 80 railway stations in the Greenbelt on the fringes of cities across England, our research shows that there is enough unused land in areas within walking distance of those train stations to accommodate nearly half a million new homes. Given the chronic shortage of new homes in certain areas, we may not be able to afford to overlook these potential sites.”
Giving planners time to catch up with policy
“Over the last ten years the fundamentals of the planning system have been in a state of flux following reform by successive governments. Today only half of planning authorities have plans fit for purpose under the NPPF. Allowing time for planning authorities to catch up will allow us to see if the plan led system can work as intended.”
A new more permanent permitted development right (PDR) for office to residential conversion
“While evidence of the impact of PDRs is mixed, headline take up has been high. However the time limit on the current right and constraints on changes to buildings means that few schemes falling with the PDRs have progressed. Allowing underutilised office space to be converted to housing without the need for full planning consent provides a welcome boost for housing delivery, while removing obsolete office space.”
Making build to rent viable
“Institutional investment into the private rented sector has a role to play both in improving the quality of accommodation, experience of renting and delivering new homes. Allowing local authorities to be more flexible with public land disposals, ensuring build to rent scheme are viable on scale, could be the key to significantly growing the institutional private rented sector. More flexible S106 agreements and conditions specifying schemes must be used for private rent would also be important tools.”
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