First-time Buyer  

PM announces plan to boost home ownership

PM announces plan to boost home ownership
 Prime minister Boris Johnson

The government has announced a package of measures to boost home ownership across England, including the resurrection of properties at a discount for first-time buyers.

Today prime minister Boris Johnson announced a £12bn affordable homes programme that will support up to 180,000 new affordable homes for ownership and rent over the next eight years.

Included in this will be a 1,500 unit pilot of ‘First Homes’ - houses that will be sold to first time buyers at a 30 per cent discount which will remain in perpetuity.

The First Home initiative is similar to the Starter Home scheme which was pushed forward in 2015 by prime minister David Cameron but which ultimately delivered no houses.

Mr Johnson also announced new regulations that will give “greater freedom” to adapt the use of vacant and redundant buildings and land in town centres, without planning permission, to create new residential properties.

The new rules include changes whereby builders will no longer require a planning application to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings, if they are rebuilt as homes.

Property owners will also be able to build additional space above their properties via a ‘fast track’ approval process, subject to neighbour consultation.

The changes are expected to be enacted by September.

According to the government, the reforms will support a revival of the high street, by allowing empty commercial properties to be repurposed quickly and “reduce the pressure to build on green field land by making brownfield development easier”.

Jeremy Leaf, principal at estate agency Jeremy Leaf & Co, said: “While, of course, the announcement of more building is very welcome we want to see more specifics”, including a “strict timetable for delivery”.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “A complex planning system hampers the ability of small to medium-sized house builders to bring forward new homes.

“I therefore welcome the prime minister’s statement of intent to radically reform this process. Builders have been concerned for years that the planning system needs updating so as to alleviate workloads for stretched departments but also to speed up decisions.”

chloe.cheung@ft.com