Bulletins | October 19, 2017

Downing Street summit hears May’s pledge to boost housebuilding

Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to take ‘personal ownership’ of the drive to speed up housing development and urged sector leaders to play their part at a Downing Street summit yesterday.

The summit, which lasted 75 minutes, was attended by ministers, the chiefs of Barratt Developments and Taylor Wimpey, alongside representatives from local government, registered social landlords, small builders and housing professionals.
A Downing Street spokesperson said May outlined her plans to increase housing supply “which means developers, big and small, local authorities and housing associations all stepping up to play their part”.

The summit discussed how to ensure planning permissions granted by councils delivered new homes, modern methods of construction, future supply of skilled workers and help for small and medium-sized builders.

“It was encouraging that everyone around the table agreed with us about the important role councils must play and pleasing that the prime minister is taking personal ownership of this challenge,” said Local Government Association chairman Lord Porter, who attended the summit.

“The last time we were building the number of homes that the country needs, in the 1970s, councils were building 40 per cent of them.

“Councils want to get on with the job of building the new homes that people in their areas desperately need again and are already playing their part by approving nine out of 10 planning applications.”

Commenting on the summit, Wedlake Bell planning partner Jay Das said no one person or organisation “has the magic wand” to solve the housing crisis.

“To be successful in the short term – before the next general election – the prime minister will need to focus on industrial and brownfield land, and more building by the public sector to show any real progress during her term of office,” she added. “Any legislative reforms are highly unlikely.”

This article first appeared in The Planner, the magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute.