Levelling up strategy - more needed to tackle major issues in order to deliver affordable homes

Commenting on the publication of the Levelling up Strategy, James Thomson, CEO, Gleeson Homes said: “The Government’s levelling up strategy will only accelerate delivery of much needed affordable homes for first time buyers if significant steps are also taken to tackle the major issues we face and which are impacting our ability to deliver much needed houses. At its heart, we have a planning system which is creating long delays and increasing costs for builders, particularly in areas designated for regeneration. Ultimately, these delays and costs are having to be absorbed by sites but will reach the point where sites in areas of regeneration become unviable, significantly hurting those on low incomes looking to get onto the market. We are concerned there is not a more considered approach from Government to ensure these plans, as well as other regulations and planning, do not have adverse unintended consequences on the delivery of much needed affordable homes.

“The levelling up agenda must prioritise affordability and supporting people on low incomes, getting them out of the rent trap, onto the housing ladder. By doing so, it removes the wealth inequality of those that rent versus those that buy. The financial benefits of home ownership combined with the security and pride of owning your own home, especially for first time buyers, is a natural kick-start to levelling up for many people. The Government must not lose sight of this and protect those on low incomes and key workers, ensuring there is enough affordable homes needed on the market in order to serve them.”

Commenting on the levelling up in the housebuilding sector, Thomson added: “Levelling up should also be delivering wider economic benefits to operators in the sector, creating opportunities for SME housebuilders to access and gain sites and deliver a much-needed product. However, in reality we see a planning system and increase in costs that are driving out smaller housebuilders from the market, resulting in more sites and homes being delivered by an increasingly small number of very large housebuilders. The new Home Building Fund will do little if we don’t fix planning and its cost impacts which leaves many small builders struggling. Levelling up must also deliver for the market in creating competition and opportunities for small and medium sized builders.”