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Theresa May calling for new housing design standards

Here at Advantage Home Construction Insurance, we’ve looked at the government’s ambitious house building target of constructing 300,000 new properties a year, and at how likely they are to meet those figures, in our recent blogs. So we weren’t altogether surprised when a new parliamentary report stated that the government was ‘way off track’ in terms of meeting that target.

Despite that warning, Theresa May has put the focus on quality as well as quantity, calling for new design standards for house builders to ensure future owners and tenants are not forced to live in “tiny” homes with inadequate storage space, according to a report in the Independent.

Too Little Too Late?

In her latest move to secure a political legacy, the prime minister will hail figures showing that by the autumn, a million new homes will have been added in under five years.

But her comments come as a parliamentary report warns that the government’s target of delivering 300,000 new homes a year is “way off track” because of problems at the heart of the planning system.

The cross-party House of Commons Public Accounts Committee said that “much more needs to be done” to scale up house building.

The Ministry of Housing has been “reluctant to take decisive action” to deal with councils which fail to produce the up-to-date local plans which are needed to drive delivery, said the committee in a report.

And local authorities have found it difficult to secure sufficient contributions from private developers to help with the cost of the infrastructure needed to support housing developments.

Committee chair Meg Hillier, said:

“Progress against the government’s annual new house building target is way off track and currently shows scant chance of being achieved.”

In a speech to the Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Manchester, Theresa May will say that the drive to build more homes must not lead to the quality of new housing being compromised.

Tenants and buyers are currently facing a “postcode lottery”, with many councils still not applying space standards introduced by the government in 2015 as a condition of planning permission, she will say.

In a clear message to her successor as prime minister, she will call for the creation a new system of universal mandatory regulation.

“I cannot defend a system in which owners and tenants are forced to accept tiny homes with inadequate storage, where developers feel the need to fill show homes with deceptively small furniture, and where the lack of universal standards encourages a race to the bottom,” she is expected to say.

Ms May will point to figures showing that since she entered No 10 in 2016, the number of extra homes being created was up by 12 per cent in Manchester, 43 per cent in Nottingham and 80 per cent in Birmingham.

Last year, she will say, more additional homes were delivered than in all but one of the previous 31 years while the number of affordable housing starts this year has risen to almost 54,000.

But she will warn against complacency: “The housing shortage in this country began not because of a blip lasting one year or one parliament, but because not enough homes were built over many decades.

“The very worst thing we could do would be to make the same mistake again.”

Ms May will also confirm plans to end so-called “no-fault” evictions, with a consultation to be published shortly, and set out a timetable for action on social housing including improved rights for tenants.

According to the BBC, The cross-party Commons Public Accounts Committee said there needed to be a clear definition of what was acceptable in terms of the quality of new housing.

In a new report, it said it was particularly concerned about offices and commercial buildings being converted into residential properties. The government is currently reviewing its policy of allowing the conversion of offices into homes without planning permission.

Related read: Housebuilding now accounts for 60% of all new construction work.

Want to learn more? Contact one of our relationship managers today to discuss your requirements on 0845 900 3969

In a speech to the Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Manchester, Theresa May will say that the drive to build more homes must not lead to the quality of new housing being compromised.

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