According to the housing delivery test results released by the government, which shows that a third of local authorities are failing to address the housing crisis.

The results show that 108 local authorities delivered fewer than 95% of the homes they need. This means that they must set out action plans to explain why they missed their targets and how they will address that.

In addition, 87 of these local authorities failed to deliver 85% of the homes they need and will therefore be subject to a buffer, which requires them to add 20% more homes to their five year land supply.

No area delivered fewer than 25% of their housing need, which means none will face the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ penalty. However, the presumption penalty threshold will increase to 45% from November 2019 and to 65% in November 2020.

If the Government had not given areas three years to meet the 65% threshold, 32 local authorities would have been subject to the penalty.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) recognises the challenges local planning authorities face in meeting the demand for housing, but remains concerned that so many councils are missing their targets, leaving us a shortfall of more than 220,000 new homes.

As local developers, NFB members would have preferred local authorities be in control of their own housing destiny but, since many are failing in their duty to meet housing demand and underestimating housing need, we welcome the blunt instrument that the Government is wielding.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said “Since the carrot of meeting housing need themselves is not enticing enough for local planners, the Government’s stick of penalties and buffers is clearly required. We have a housing crisis and the Government is taking appropriate steps to fix it.”

Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing and planning policy at the House Builders Association (HBA), concluded “Councils need to do a better job assessing housing need and identify where homes can be built more quickly. If they continue to underestimate demand and focus on large, controversial developments, we expect the housing crisis to worsen and the Government to take control from failing councils.”

The residential sector had a particularly positive February with £1.7 billion contracts awarded, an increase of 13.1% on January. Residential unit numbers also increased – up by 5.4% on January at 9,850 units. Following residential in terms of contracts awarded was infrastructure with a 13.9% share and education with a 12.3% share.

Barbour ABI

The latest edition of the Economic & Construction Market Review from industry analysts Barbour ABI highlights levels of construction contract values awarded across Great Britain. This month it shows the total value of construction contracts awarded in February 2019 was £5.4 billion which is a 0.5% decrease on January, but 10.6% higher than February 2018.

The top project awarded during February was the £250 million redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks which sees Multiplex Construction Europe provide a total of 88 residential units in a single 5 storey structure. The largest infrastructure contract was the £110 million redevelopment of the former Royal London Hospital site in Tower Hamlets to provide a new civic centre and council offices. The largest overall education contract was in Edinburgh and was the £90 million redevelopment and extension of the Darwin Building for the University of Edinburgh.

Barbour ABI

A £9 million cash injection to speed up the locally-led building of new garden towns and villages across the country has been announced.

The Garden Communities project is expected to deliver 200,000 properties on large sites by 2050, and the latest funding will help get 21 sites ready for development.

The government project is helping ambitious councils get well-designed homes built on large sites, and the money will help pay for master-planning and technical studies.

Work is already underway on 10,000 properties across the country in garden towns and villages, with 36,000 expected to be underway or completed by 2022.

Housing Minister Kit Malthouse MP said “We have not built enough homes in this country for the last three decades, and we are turning that around as we work towards our target to build 300,000 properties a year by the mid-2020s.

“This £9 million funding boost is giving councils the support and cash injection they need so they can finish planning new developments and get diggers on site.”

The developments being funded include a 2,000 home site for custom and self-builders in Bicester, on land purchased by the council from the Ministry of Defence.

It also includes developments in Basingstoke, Didcot, Taunton, Harlow-Gilston and across Northamptonshire where work is already underway on the first phase of developments.

The funding will be administered by Homes England.

Place | Capacity award | Homes
Aylesbury | £420,000 | 15,000
Basingstoke | £695,000 | 10,000
Bicester | £770,000 | 13,000
Harlow & Gilston | £715,000 | 24,000
North Essex (Colchester, Tendring & Braintree) | £1,000,000 | 43,000
North Northants (Corby, Kettering & Wellingborough) | £725,000 | 33,000
Otterpool Park, Folkestone | £1,250,000 | 10,000
Taunton | £550,000 | 15,000
Bailrigg | £100,000 | 3,500
Culm, Mid Devon | £300,000 | 5,000
Dunton Hills | £100,000 | 3,500
Halsnead | £300,000 | 1,589
Handforth | £150,000 | 1,650
Infinity, Derbyshire | £150,000 | 3,200
Longmarston | £300,000 | 3,500
Longcross | £125,000 | 1,700
West Oxfordshire | £150,000 | 2,200
Tresham | £300,000 | 1,500
Welbourne | £300,000 | 6,000
West Carclaze | £300,000 | 1,500
St Cuthbert’s, Carlisle | £300,000 | 10,000

  • New study has found that 605,891 homes were unoccupied last year.
  • Liverpool has the biggest problem with vacant homes, with over 10,000 homes remaining empty in 2017.
  • A third of empty homes throughout the country are empty for longer than six months.

A new study has revealed the shocking extent of England’s empty homes crisis, with more than 600,000 homes remaining vacant.

The study, conducted by Good Move, has found that a third of empty homes are classed as long-term vacant, after being empty for more than six months.

The city of Liverpool takes the crown for the most vacant properties, with a staggering 10,512 properties laying empty last year. The data comes despite efforts by Liverpool City Council to reduce the amount of vacant homes with a free matchmaking service to introduce buyers and sellers of empty homes, in a bid to bring more empty homes into use.

Birmingham follows closely behind, with 10,386 empty homes. The city famous for its Bullring accounts for 17% of West Midlands’ total number of vacant homes.

The Yorkshire city of Leeds has the third highest number of empty homes throughout the country, with 10,263 properties vacant. Leeds’ empty homes equates to 14% of Yorkshire and the Humber’s empty homes.

The North West has the most vacant properties, with 102,847 homes laying empty across the region, and 38% of those being vacant for longer than six months. Liverpool has the most empty homes in the North West, and the country as a whole, with 10,512 vacant properties in 2017.

Following closely behind the North West is the South East, with a staggering 86,693 vacant properties last year. Of the 86,000 empty homes, 29% of those are vacant for longer than six months.

The top five cities with the highest number of empty homes are:

City Number of vacant homes (2017) As a % of all housing
Liverpool 10,512 4.70%
Birmingham 10,386 2.40%
Leeds 10,263 3.00%
Durham 10,026 4.20%
Bradford 8,751 4.10%

England regions by number of vacant homes:

Region Number of vacant homes (2017) As a % of all housing Long-term vacant*
North East 43,617 3.60% 17,106
North West 102,847 3.20% 39,344
Yorkshire & The Humber 73,728 3.10% 27,009
East Midlands 52,562 2.60% 18,553
West Midlands 62,919 2.60% 20,996
East of England 58,831 2.20% 17,983
London 62,366 1.80% 20,237
South East 86,693 2.20% 25,378
South West 62,328 2.50% 18,687

The number of empty commercial properties in London’s zones 1-3 has reached more than 10,000 according to new figures out today from Live-in Guardians. The company carried out research among London’s 22 Local Authorities but with many unable to report the data, the current 10,666 figures on record is expected to be thousands higher. The Live-in Guardians Vacant Property Index undertaken by the guardian company, is the first annual report to collect the data with many councils missing the data.

Founder Arthur Duke, a former commercial lawyer, has lambasted the housing department and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan for not doing enough, while there is a crippling housing crisis in the capital. He says the Government will create more red tape for companies like his, despite so many buildings being unused, when they introduce more onerous HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) legislation later this year.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, Live-in Guardians’ research has revealed the empty commercial building figures across the 22 Local Authorities. Of those asked, eight councils were unable to provide the information. “It’s like The Titanic not filling all its lifeboats – thousands of buildings that can create affordable means of living are lying empty,” says Duke, who believes the Government should be looking into its empty building portfolios, when it comes to improving housing availability in the capital.

These empty building figures have grown over the last few years with two buildings a week becoming empty in Zones 1-3 only. The figures reveal the worse offenders – the City of London with 3,409 empty buildings; Hammersmith & Fulham with 1,288 empty buildings and Ealing with 1,147 vacant commercial properties. Interestingly, Kensington & Chelsea and Newham Councils did not respond to the request.

Duke goes on: “This is a reflection of extortionate property prices coupled with ferociously high business rates that push companies further away from the centre of town to the suburbs. Many of the buildings from our research include office buildings, retail premises, police stations, warehouses and factory buildings. We also have former law courts, restaurants, a former go-karting track and even a few banks.”

The HMO rules will see the license requirements change from ‘properties occupied by five or more people, forming two separate households comprises three or more storeys’ to all properties irrespective of how many storeys. These new rules will make it difficult for empty building owners to house guardians living communally in their larger commercial buildings. Duke adds: “I struggle to find the empty building figures acceptable. Especially when there is an increased amount of red tape forecast and fines of up to £20,000, which will mean higher costs to get these buildings in a condition where they are suitable for guardian occupation, when these buildings could be housing Londoners who are struggling to afford quality accommodation in the central London Zones.

“More should be done to make use of these empty spaces, which are, in fact viable temporary homes with a little imagination and effort – that benefit all parties. The Government should see these empty buildings as an alternative temporary form of living and has the added bonus of helping guardians save money they could potentially use to buy their own property in the future. Once guardians are living in commercial spaces, the owners are typically exempt from paying business rates and there’s no requirement for expensive security costs.”

Guardians typically pay less than 50% of the private rental costs, making it more affordable for them to live and work in the capital. Meanwhile, real estate advisor, Altus Group, says the average business rates bill for a commercial property in the City of London last year was £63,234 up 23.4% following last April’s revaluation – empty business rates can be mitigated once guardians occupy a commercial space, while its awaiting for example, planning permission.

House prices in London now weigh in at eight times the average salary, so there is a need for some dramatic action to resolve this growing problem. Duke suggest that the new Housing Minister, Dominic Raab and the Mayor of London consider these figures, and start assembling a true record of empty buildings. Moreover, rather than trying to assist, it seems that local councils are putting additional hurdles in place. “The Government should be supporting guardianship. There’s a real need for these empty buildings to be put to good use, the guardian figures prove this.

“I strongly urge that HMO legislation should not be applicable to Guardian properties or at least with a 12-month exemption, as guardian occupation is always ‘temporary’, unlike ‘pure’ residential buildings, which will be residential indefinitely. There is a housing crisis and thousands of empty buildings, surely this is a feasible temporary solution,” Duke explains.

Live-in Guardians currently manages 70 buildings in London, each home to savvy professionals who are using this as an alternative solution to affordable living. However, with over 2,000 Londoners looking to become a guardian at any given time, the numbers reflect the need for viable housing opportunities.

Arthur adds: “I am consistently astonished at the small number of business owners that are knowledgeable on the subject of putting guardians into their empty commercial spaces to save on business rates. It seems like a no brainer to me. If you have any empty building standing there, it is liable to be vandalized or at risk from squatters – but it doesn’t need to be empty. We have hundreds of vetted people who are desperate to live close to central London without the usual price tag.

Rural landowners have warned that the lack of flexibility in new planning rules which prevent a mix of affordable and market homes from being built on special sites in the countryside will severely limit the chances of solving the rural housing crisis.

The Government has published a revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which claims to help build more homes, more quickly in places where people want to live. But according to the CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, changes made to the criteria for Entry Level Exception Sites will now encourage less land being made available for much needed homes in the countryside.

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said “The new rules now state that all properties on an Entry Level Exception Site must be affordable. While we desperately need affordable homes so people can live and work in the countryside, the reality of the policy means that landowners will not bring land forward because the incentive of including market homes on the site has been removed. Without the benefit of cross subsidy, the decision to release land for housing is not financially viable so fewer homes are likely to be built.

“In the last five years, 13% of CLA members have donated or sold land at a discount for affordable housing. We made a robust case to the Government for greater incentives to help grow this figure but by making it less attractive for landowners, the Entry Level Exception Site policy severely limits the chance to solve the rural housing crisis.”

More than one in seven young Britons (14 per cent) would be willing to buy a house with a total stranger – in a desperate bid to get on the property ladder, according to nationwide research.

A new study of 2,000 Brits (aged 18 – 40) by HSBC, has revealed the true extent to which buying a property now feels completely out of reach for the younger generation, with a staggering 83 percent claiming they will probably NEVER be able to afford to buy their own property.

According to the report, 80 per cent would co-own and share a property with someone who is not their partner, with a further 59 per cent saying they’re “open to the idea” of buying with a stranger – if they ticked all the boxes.

As a result of the findings, HSBC is running a unique speed-dating style event on February 15th –National Singles Awareness Day – to bring together people interested in meeting someone they could potentially co-buy with.

A desperate 4 per cent said they would be prepared to move in with “a mate from the pub”, while just under one in twenty are so desperate to get on the property ladder, they would EVEN be prepared to buy with an ex.

And the study revealed modern Brits have a clear idea of the top traits the PERFECT housemate or ‘homebae’ should have, with odour free and clean and tidy in the top five.

The list of attributes also includes being able to cook a cracking roast, earning over 50k a year, having a penchant for a good BBC drama, having a good credit rating – and (in an ideal world) NOT being a vegetarian or vegan.

Being calm under pressure was a top trait for 42 per cent of people and 35 per cent would rather share a home with someone who DOES NOT play music too loudly – and 28 percent said they would like someone who is a good listener.

While clean, serene and someone who is a financial dream were topping the list of priorities for co-ownership, people said their pet peeves include extreme mess (67 per cent), irritating behaviour (61 per cent), someone bringing undesirable people home (42 per cent) and people not paying their share of household bills (30 per cent).

27 percent said their annual salary would not get them a big enough mortgage to but a property where they would like to live, while 25 percent said it would be nice to split the bills with someone else.

Overwhelmingly 75 percent of young Brits said that if they get the chance they will buy a house purely to live in, rather than as a buy to let, while 9 percent said they will rent out a room to help with the mortgage.

“We understand the challenges that young buyers are facing today and that they are willing to think outside the box to get on the property ladder – even contemplating the idea of buying with a stranger,” comments HSBC mortgages expert Chris Pearson. “That’s why we’ve run this research on the perfect homebuying partner and are holding Home Bae, the UK’s first-ever speed dating event for co-buyers.”

“Buying a home is a life-changing financial commitment and there’s no doubt this is an unorthodox way of doing it. People who are considering this step need to not only find someone responsible and compatible – they also need to dot every “I” and cross every “T” to avoid a difficult situation in the future, especially when it comes to selling. It’s important to have a clear agreement in place from day one so you both know what’s expected of you.”

Focusing on the check list of what’s really important to you is essential, according to relationship coach Sam Owen, who says “The quality of our relationships is more important than how many friends we have or whether we have a romantic partner.

“Even one good person in your life, like a ‘house-partner’ you buy a home with, could be a lifeline, especially in a world with increasing physical and sometimes even psychological distance between us. It’s a partnership so you’ll want to make sure there aren’t any deal-breakers and they really tick your boxes.”

The study is part of HSBC’s annual Beyond the Bricks report which looks at home-buying habits and attitudes across the world.

According to Brits, the perfect housemate:

  1. Pays the bills on time – 80 percent
  2. Is clean and tidy – 70 percent
  3. Keeps the bathroom clean – 56 percent
  4. Does NOT have body odour – 51 percent
  5. Is open to compromise – 48 percent
  6. Is calm under pressure – 42 percent
  7. Can do DIY – 39 percent
  8. Has savings in the bank – 38 percent
  9. Loves pets – 37 percent
  10. Is fun loving – 36 percent
  11. Does not play loud music – 35 percent
  12. Has a good credit rating – 31 percent
  13. Is a good listener – 28 percent
  14. Keeps the fridge well stocked – 26 percent
  15. Is a meat-eater – 24 percent
  16. Does NOT talk too much about themselves – 23 percent
  17. Lets you borrow their things – 23 percent
  18. Will deal with all the household admin – 22 percent
  19. Lends you books and movies – 20 percent
  20. Loves a good BBC drama – 19 percent
  21. Has monthly savings targets – 19 percent
  22. Earns over 50k a year – 18 percent
  23. Cooks a cracking roast – 18 percent
  24. Does a “chemist run” when you’re ill – 17 percent
  25. Likes to be in bed by 11pm – 17 percent
  26. Has a Netflix account – 16 percent
  27. Has a family holiday home somewhere warm and sunny – 16 percent
  28. Does not snore – 16 percent
  29. Owns a car – 15 percent
  30. Is stylish – 13 percent

A cross-party group of MPs has urged the Government to introduce a new ‘Dedicated Strategy for Small Housebuilders’ to reverse the decline in the number of new homes built by small builders, which has plummeted to just 2,500 today from 12,000 in 1998.

Describing the new proposals, the MPs leading the report said ‘We have many legitimate disagreements with each other on many aspects of housing policy, but on this we are agreed: we cannot solve the housing shortage without smaller builders.’

‘An Inquiry into Support for Small Housebuilders’, supported by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), calls for a ‘Dedicated Strategy for Small Housebuilders’ which must address the key challenges holding housebuilders back, including:

  1. Limited access to finance: MPs are calling for a Government backed guarantee on loans to small housebuilders, who are more reliant on financing than bigger builders with large reserves of cash.
  2. Action against businesses that pay their suppliers late: The report asks for a strengthened prompt payment code with a new “three strikes and you’re out” rule targeting big businesses who repeatedly pay late.
  3. More help to increase apprenticeships in the building trade: Large businesses paying the new apprentice levy must prioritise transferring their levy to small, rather than large, businesses, helping to increase apprenticeship opportunities in the building trade.
  4. Remove barriers to building on small sites: Government must use the revised NPPF to streamline the planning process for smaller firms.

Robert Courts MP, Chair of the APPG, said “Government action has started to address some of the needs of small builders but we must leave no stone unturned to truly unlock the housing market.

“A new, dedicated strategy for small housebuilders would be an important step in achieving this. This needs to centre on a positive package of measures that removes some the biggest barriers for small builders including the inability to access finance and reducing the cost of developer contributions like the Community Infrastructure Levy.”

Catherine West MP, Vice Chair of the Inquiry, said “The current state of the UK housing market leaves no doubt that there is huge potential for small builders to make a vital contribution to building the homes we need.

“Our report sets out a series of proposals that will enable small builders to scale up, grow and build more which will help relieve the housing shortage.

“The simple truth is that the UK cannot expect to build the homes we so desperately need unless smaller builders are backed. Giving small builders the keys they need could result in tens of thousands of urgently needed homes being built up and down the UK.

“This will help create jobs, stimulate economic growth and provide the homes the UK need.”

FSB acts as the secretariat for the APPG and supported them on the inquiry.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said “Small housebuilders will welcome the cross-party effort to shine a light on the very real challenges that are holding them back from playing their part in building the homes the UK needs.

“It is vital that the Government does not turn a blind eye to the findings of this report and commits to creating a dedicated strategy aimed at giving small homebuilders the finance, skills and support they need to help fix the broken housing market.”

A vital independent review into understanding why hundreds of thousands of homes haven’t been built – despite having planning permission – is now underway, according to the Government.

Originally announced at Autumn Budget, the review, led by Sir Oliver Letwin will look to explain the gap between the number of planning permissions being granted against those built in areas of high demand.

Currently, after planning permission is granted a variety of factors can prevent development from starting and slow down delivery and the review wants to determine why.

As of July 2016, just over half the 684,000 homes with planning permission had been completed.

The review will seek to identify the main causes of the gap and will make recommendations on practical steps to increase the speed of build out. Latest evidence shows that residential planning applications are up and that time to process major applications continues to be at a record high.

Sir Oliver Letwin, Chairman of the Review Panel, said “This government is serious about finding ways to increase the speed of build out as well as tackling the complicated issues surrounding it.

“That’s why we have set up this diverse panel to help me test my analysis and to make practical, non-partisan recommendations, as we look to increase housing supply that’s consistent with a stable UK housing market.”

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said “We are determined to build the homes this country needs, but currently there is still a significant gap between the number of planning permissions being granted and the number of homes built.

“This review is vital to helping us understand how we can build more homes quickly.

“All parties have a role to play in closing the gap and I look forward to receiving Sir Oliver’s findings.”

The review will be conducted in 2 phases:

Phase 1 – currently under way – will seek to identify the main causes of the gap by reviewing large housing sites where planning permission has already been granted. This will include information-gathering sessions with local authorities, developers, non-government organisations and others. Early findings will be published in the interim report.

Phase 2 will make recommendations on practical steps to increase the speed of build out, which will be published in the full report.

The review will also consider how to avoid interventions which might discourage house building or hinder the regeneration of complex sites.

Sir Oliver will be assisted by a team of leading experts:

  • Richard Ehrman – author, small commercial property developer and former journalist. Former special adviser to the Secretary of State for Employment and subsequently Northern Ireland, onetime Chief Leader Writer of the Daily Telegraph, and former Deputy Chairman of Policy Exchange
  • Lord Jitesh Gadhia – Member of House of Lords and investment banker
  • Lord John Hutton – (Labour) Peer and former Secretary of State
  • Rt Hon Baroness Usha Prashar CBE, PC – (Crossbench) Peer with a career spanning public, not for profit and private sectors, currently Deputy Chairman, British Council and a non-
  • Executive Director of Nationwide Building Society
  • Christine Whitehead – Emeritus Professor of Housing Economics at London School of Economics

A new £25 million fund has been launched to help local authorities to deliver the high quality, well designed homes that this country needs.

Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma this week announced that the Planning Delivery Fund is now open for bids and will support ambitious local authorities and third sector organisations in areas of high housing need to plan for new homes and infrastructure.

Initially opening up £11 million of the fund, councils will be able to apply to help gain the skills or capacity they need to deliver high quality housing growth at scale, pace and implement wider planning reforms. The fund is aimed at encouraging more innovation in the design quality of new housing developments, as well as provide design advice and support to local authorities.

As part of the government’s plans to raise housing supply to 300,000 per year on average by the mid-2020s, a package of measure has been announced to boost local authority planning capacity, support councils to take a proactive role in planning and encourage ambition and leadership in the delivery of new communities.

Others measures announced along with the £25 million Planning Delivery Fund include:

  • a further £3 million funding to support the delivery of the 14 garden villages that are part of the government’s existing programme
  • publishing a consultation on plans to allow the creation of locally led New Town Development Corporations, and help speed up the delivery of new garden towns

Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma said “Locally-led developments have enormous potential to deliver the scale and quality of housing growth that we need. By supporting our local authorities, we will be able to unlock more homes where people want to live.

“These measures including the £25 million of government support which will help develop new communities that will not only help deliver high-quality well-designed homes, but will also bring new jobs and facilities and a boost to local economies.”

Across England, the government is currently supporting 24 locally-led garden cities, towns and villages, which have the potential to deliver around 220,000 homes.

Backed by £16 million funding, a further £3 million has been allocated to 14 garden villages in the programme to fund dedicated staff and studies and assessments that are vital to the delivery of garden villages that are key to successful delivery.

The government’s housing white paper in February 2017 committed to the creation of New Town Development Corporations, which would be overseen by the local authority or authorities covering the area proposed for a new garden community, rather than by Whitehall. Government is now seeking views on this proposal.