The government’s penchant for home ownership shows no sign of abating. First we had the Right to Buy and now Starter Homes is again stealing the headlines.
Starter Homes is a new government programme to build low-cost homes for first time buyers who are under 40. Prices are at least 20% lower than the market rate; capped at £250,000 outside of London and £450,000 in London. However, these are not currently classed as “affordable” housing under existing planning rules meaning that Starter Homes do not meet builders’ obligations to provide an element of affordable housing in new development schemes.
The Conservatives are changing the rules to include Starter Homes in the definition of affordable housing and local authorities will not be able to hold out for one type of affordable housing over another. This change will be introduced alongside measures to ensure Starter Homes are built on all reasonably sized sites (i.e. those above a certain unit threshold). By introducing more flexibility the hope is that more sites will be developed and as a result, more affordable housing will be provided. Indeed, if the government is to be believed, this change in the planning rules will provide 200,000 new homes by 2020 marking a move from “generation rent to generation buy”.