The government has confirmed this week that thousands of homes will be built for first time buyers.
30 local planning authorities have been selected to receive part of the government's £1.2 billion Starter Homes Land Fund, established to encourage new developments on brownfield land.
The authorities selected span the country and include those in Bristol, Liverpool, Luton, Cheshire and Plymouth. They were chosen on the basis of their ability to deliver the starter homes in accordance with the government's projected timetable.
The Starter Homes initiative was first announced by the coalition government in 2014 and there has been some uncertainty regarding exactly what form a starter home will take, and who will be allowed to purchase one. As a consequence, it has taken some time for the product to come to the market.
Under the latest initiative it is said that the first sites will begin construction in the latter part of 2017, with the first Starter Homes expected to go on sale in 2018. The housing minister Gavin Barwell reiterated that 'this government is committed to building starter homes to help young first-time buyers get on the housing ladder'.
Buyers of Starter Homes need to be between 23 and 40, and they will receive a discount of 20% of the market value of properties worth up to £250,000 outside London or £450,000 in the capital. Given the proposed values of Starter Homes, there remains a question mark regarding whether a starter home can truly be regarded as 'affordable'.
While the government is confident on the uptake of the funds it is offering and is optimistic about the delivery of homes and Starter Homes, only time will tell as to the level of uptake and ultimately the levels of delivery of the Starter Homes. The anticipated timetable for delivery of the homes is ambitious given the ongoing challenges facing the house building industry as a whole.
In a second announcement the government has revealed the locations for the first wave of 'garden villages' across England. The new garden villages will be located across England and include new developments at Long Marston in Stratford-on-Avon and Oxfordshire Cotswold in West Oxfordshire.
Garden Villages are designed to deliver between 1,500 and 10,000 homes, and they will have access to a £6million central fund aimed to supply the expertise required to secure the delivery of these sites.
This builds on the government's existing garden towns programme, which has already seen the selection of seven sites for development of more than 10,000 homes. This week's announcement confirmed that there will be three new garden towns built at Aylesbury, Taunton and Harlow & Gilston, and a further £1.4 million of funding has been announced to support their delivery.
The announcement anticipates 25,000 housing starts by 2020 in the garden villages and towns. Again, an ambitious target given the issues facing the development industry in terms of securing the delivery of housing.
On a final note, the government's White Paper on housing supply is due for release imminently. This will set out the government's initiatives to boost the supply of housing and the indications are that the paper will be likely to focus on a shift away from home ownership towards the rental market. No doubt the white paper will be the source of further interest and debate within the industry.