Shapps heralds return of an ‘age of aspiration’

At an event hosted by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Minister highlighted the "quick and decisive action" already taken to help improve confidence in the market – including making Home Information Packs history.

And he outlined plans to scrap Regional Spatial Strategies and housing targets, and instead replace them with new incentives, so communities can see the benefits that new developments can bring to their area.

Grant Shapps said:

"If we are really serious about supporting people’s aspirations for home ownership, the real prize is we must build more homes.  For the first time incentives will create direct benefits for local communities, bringing jobs, investment and more homes for local people.

"Rather than being told what to build and where, residents of villages, towns and cities will be able to develop their own vision for their place. We’ll introduce Local Housing Trusts, enabling communities to create new housing for local people.

"By unleashing the aspirations of communities as well as individuals to build homes where and when they are needed, we will bring about greater certainty – certainty that will replace the conflict caused by imposing housing numbers from right here in Whitehall. Certainty that will give investors confidence to invest."

He added:

"I believe that it is human nature to aspire to shelter and security – and for the many that means owning the roof over your own head.

"And I don’t consider it my job as Housing Minister to hold those aspirations back.

"With a new Government and despite the enormous financial difficulties the country faces, I want to state clearly today:

"The Age of Aspiration is back."

Ian Baker, Group Managing Director for Housebuilding at Galliford Try Homes said:

”We are greatly encouraged by Grant Shapps’ latest statement confirming a commitment to encouraging homeownership and the building of more homes. He is right to question the banks’ reluctance to lend to people who can afford to pay back mortgages and we add to the call for ongoing restrictions to mortgage lending to be lifted.

“Tackling the long standing issues of planning red tape and approaching the new localism policies with some caution is also welcomed and we look forward to the content of his policy statement. This must, however, be very clear in the detail so that local authorities can gear up to provide housebuilders with a mandate to deliver housing and convey a fair and accurate picture of the need for new homes at a local level. The worst case scenario would be a shift towards Nimbyism for Nimbyism sake.

“Mr Shapps’ further commitment to HomeBuy Direct schemes which encourages first-time buyers is welcomed. However, he must also not lose sight of the benefits that the housebuilding industry brings to the economy as a whole, providing housing and employment across many different associated sectors.”

David Bexon, Managing Director of SmartNewHomes.com said:

“Grant Shapps’ commitment to increasing home ownership will inject much-needed momentum into the housebuilding industry’s recovery and is something we have been campaigning for. Off the back of today’s announcement, I would hope to see increased levels of lending from the banks, in particular for new build properties which have suffered from excessive lending restrictions, as well as an up-turn in the number of first time-buyers able to enter the market.

“The public and housebuilding industry will be hoping that today’s announcement acts as a precedent for the new government’s long term plans, however, we are still yet to hear how development levels will be sustained under the coalition’s localism policy – something which remains the biggest threat to recovery.”

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One thought on “Shapps heralds return of an ‘age of aspiration’

  1. Major Landlord

    Having followed Grant Shapps’ statements in Opposition, and his actions within the first few weeks of his new ministerial post, I am inspired (in common with many others) with much greater confidence that we now finally have a reasonable man in charge of housing, who will listen to sensible arguments.

    However, Mr. Shapps must also be careful to weigh all sides of the housing equation before setting out on new policy tracks that could bring unintentional consequences. In particular:

    – there are still an estimated 500,000+ empty houses in the UK, largely owned by local councils. Should we not concentrate on bringing these back into use before allowing more new developments?
    – housing policy needs to address and correct the north-to-south population drift of past decades. This has resulted in empty housing in the north, and overcrowding in the south, plus intolerable strain on resources such as schools, water supplies, drainage, roads and public transport.
    – housing needs must be carefully measured and re-defined. The existing figures from councils indicate shortages, but are often based on double-counting of council housing applicants who are already living in private rented accommodation and simply want to transfer. If we build to satisfy all these people, there will be thousands more empty houses all over the country
    – supply and demand must be kept in careful balance. If the market is flooded with newbuilds that are not needed, it will cause a new housing crash like that in Ireland. That will in turn upset the fragile recovery, and tip us back into recession.

    Commercial interests must always be listened to, but with extreme caution and set against a balanced view taken from all related parties. Brown listened too much to the bankers, and too little to the Bank of England . . . and look where that got us.

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