Housing should remain a key priority
I suspect - and hope - that housing will be high on the agenda at this week's Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.
There have been a number of recent announcements from the government that suggest new homes remain a key priority. And at its conference last week, the Labour Party said housing would be at the centre of its economic strategy.
We're all aware of the targets the current and previous governments set themselves, and we are starting to see some concrete initiatives which could mean new homes coming off the drawing board and on to site.
A £10billion debt guarantee for affordable and private rental homes is one of the measures designed to kick-start residential development. In addition to this funding package are plans to drop affordable housing planning requirements, where developers can demonstrate they are unviable. The battle is on to reduce the barriers stopping new developments hitting site!
But funding is only part of the story. Land is equally critical. The government's announcement that the Homes and Communities Agency will co-ordinate the release of public sector land will hopefully help accelerate this process.
Willmott Dixon recently commissioned a survey of councillors across England and Wales. We asked local authorities what they considered to be the main barriers to economic growth. Housing was second only to fiscal constraints. It's a big item on the political agenda and action is needed now.
There are people without decent homes; local economies are suffering and the benefits of investing in construction go without saying. Though these initiatives won't translate into an immediate increase in supply, we have, I believe, turned a corner.
Stop Press: The Urban Land Institute is hosting a fringe event on housing at the Conference:
7.30am, Tuesday, 9 October, Ground Floor Conference Room, 11 Brindleyplace
Housing - Exploding the Myths
Introduction: Martin Field, vice chair ULI UK Regions
Moderator: Stuart Macdonald, editor, Inside Housing
• Nick Jopling, chairman ULI UK Residential Council, executive director, Grainger plc;
• Richard Parker, partner and head of housing team, PWC;
• Nick Ebbs, CEO Blueprint, director Igloo;
• John Frankiewicz, CEO Willmott Dixon Capital Works;
• Chris White, director, regeneration consultancy, CBRE.