Concern on land release and policy for new housing provision


Following this week's Commons Select Committee's concern that the government has failed to develop and execute an effective strategy to meet land disposal targets over releasing land, we have been speaking to Sir Steve Bullock, Chair of the Housing and Finance Institute and also of the Sutton Housing Partnership, for his insight, ahead of our housing briefings and discussions this summer.

By October 2019, the Commons Select Committee has asked the Cabinet Office to write to it to set out a clear strategy for how the government will meet its targets for new homes. It claims the government will miss its target to sell enough land by 2020 for 160,000 new homes, by a considerable margin of 91,000 homes. It also stated that in future, the government should set targets that are challenging but fully supported by a clearly explained rationale and robust evidence on what is achievable.

Sir Steve was formerly Vice-Chair of Homes for London, and gained considerable experience in housing working at Lewisham Council, before taking on his role at the Housing and Finance Institute. The HFI promotes a 'dramatic expansion of both social rented homes and private ownership'. He commented on the importance of being clear about how land will be used:

'If your objective is to create more affordable housing then appropriate master-planning from the outset is very important. You have to have a clear vision about what the land is to be used for. In the London boroughs it has worked quite well when councils go into a joint venture with private sector developers, so that the role of promoting the site and marketing the properties is carried out by professionals.'

He also noted that there is beginning to be a generational shift - particularly in the ages groups under 40 - on accepting greater density in housing provision, if improved security and amenities such as private balconies and attractive public realm are offered by developers.