Housing Secretary Sajid Javid has launched Homes England as a reinvention of the Homes and Community Agency as a key step towards delivering on the Government’s Housing White Paper commitments.
The new agency will combine the HCA’s previous track record with planning with new land buying powers, giving it a role in securing land for development. The focus will be on bringing forward developable land in areas where people want to live, supporting smaller and more innovative house builders enter the market and resource brownfield sites.
In addition, the Regulator of Social Housing has been removed from the agency’s remit, to become a standalone organisation.
The announcement is good news for the custom build sector, which is dominated by small- and medium-enterprise companies bringing on innovative housing.
The announcement reflects a willing by Government to continue the conversation about diversification in housing supply and supporting the sector.
Government expects the new agency will make a significant contribution to delivering its 300,000 homes a year target by the mid-2020s.
Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This government is determined to build the homes our country needs and help more people get on the housing ladder. Homes England will be at the heart of leading this effort.
“The new agency will be key in replicating this approach right across the country and will help us build a Britain fit for the future.”
Around 310 local authorities now have a Brownfield register, which has highlighted 26,000 hectares of land with development opportunities across 16,000 sites.
Homes England intends to prioritise progress on these registers, linking up developable land in areas that people want to live. Sites already in progress include Alconbury, Cambridgeshire, a former airfield with scope for 5,000 homes, 10,000 homes on a Cambridge Brownfield site and 3,200 homes in South Yorkshire.
The Garden communities are also expected to be rich source of developable land for custom build, and we’ve already seen the Right To Build Task Force contributing to plots being planned, such as the 165 opportunities at Aylesbury Woodlands.
The agency is tasked with developing a new commercial approach to land acquisition, preparing, managing and bringing on developable land in areas of demand and strategic importance.
The combination of financial and land support will facilitate housing supply for a range of builders, with an emphasis on the SME sector.
Over £750 million of the £1 billion short-term fund, part of the Home Building Fund, has been committed to SMEs, custom builders and developers using modern methods of construction, which the agency expects to result in over 25,500 homes being built.
Sir Ed Lister, Chairman of Homes England, added: “We will take the lead in delivering better quality homes and great places that set the bar high for others. We will also stimulate demand for Modern Methods of Construction and ultimately disrupt the housing market.”