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Housing Summit gains national attention

27 January 2016

Housing experts, developers, housing associations and local authorities gathered in Milton Keynes this week to debate the Government’s intention to build 200,000 new homes by the year 2020.

The 2016 Housing Summit, organised by South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP), attracted over 170 guests from across the country to Stadium MK, where speakers included Shadow Minister for Housing, Rt Hon John Healey MP, and senior members of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

The Government aims to deliver 200,000 new homes a year, a figure which includes 400,000 new affordable homes by 2020. In the South East Midlands – an area which covers Aylesbury, Banbury, Bedford, Bicester, Daventry, Kettering, Leighton Buzzard, Luton, Milton Keynes and Northampton - at least 127,000 new homes are planned by 2025/26 and local plans mean this is likely to increase to over 135,000.

Dr Ann Limb CBE DL, Chair of SEMLEP, said: “The main challenge we face is funding the infrastructure new homes require – the roads, schools, utilities and community and leisure facilities. The income from new homes to fund infrastructure comes only once a house is built and as a result of today’s summit we are now calling on the Treasury to provide a way of funding infrastructure up front, to be paid back when the homes are built.

“In Milton Keynes the previous tariff arrangements provided the ability to forward fund infrastructure but these are no longer permitted, hence our call for support from central government.”

Describing the South East Midlands as “the housing growth engine of the UK", the leader of Milton Keynes Council, Pete Marland added: “The South East Midlands has consistently delivered more new homes than anywhere else over a sustained period. However we are facing a real challenge in ensuring we continue to make sure that everyone has a home to rent or buy at a price they can afford, but also deliver the infrastructure that makes a community, schools, GPs services, play areas and community space.

“We have always worked positively with developers and landowners to achieve this, and this SEMLEP Housing Summit is a great example of how we are trying to work constructively to build the homes we need to tackle the housing crisis.”

The Orbit Group, a housing association, joined the panel of speakers, with its chief executive Paul Tennant talking to delegates about the growing demand for shared ownership homes.

Paul said: “The Government announced a clear intention to scale-up the delivery of shared ownership homes in its Autumn Statement. We are seeing a growing demand for this tenure, with our sales of shared ownership homes doubling this year, and we expect to see the same next year. However, we need to ensure we are continuing to build homes across a range of tenures to provide a truly affordable housing journey for our customers now and in the future.”

Jeremy Blackburn, Head of Policy at RICS, who chaired the panel discussion at the Summit   said: “Housing and home ownership are now at the very top of the political agenda in a way that many of us will not have seen in generations. The last government and this one have been surprisingly interventionist in order to drive construction of new homes, mostly however from the demand side. So far we haven’t seen a sufficient answer for those who have to rent, whether through choice or economics; the answer to generation rent cannot be solely to buy, no matter what the risks.”

SEMLEP’s Housing Summit was sponsored by NatWest, with Paul Eyre, regional managing director, explaining the company’s motivation.

“NatWest’s support for the housing market is strong. We commit about £4.5billion to the lending of the build for the sales market and about £10m to the affordable sector via housing associations. In addition to that we have announced a desire to lend £1billion to the private rental sector, so we are delighted to have supported SEMLEP’s Housing Summit and to have helped stimulate debate.”

Click HERE to view and download presentations made to delegates at this Housing Summit.

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