Homes England: Government launches new agency to boost housebuilding

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A new national housing agency, Homes England, to boost housebuilding by bringing together planning expertise and new land buying powers has been launched by housing secretary Sajid Javid

The body, which will replace the Homes & Communities Agency, aims to help deliver an average of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.

Javid said Homes England will take a new, commercial approach to acquiring, preparing, managing and developing land in areas of high demand and strategic importance.

It will also focus on supporting smaller, more innovative housebuilders and on developing brownfield sites across the country to accommodate new homes.

Some £750m from a £1bn short-term fund that is part of the government’s Home Building Fund will be earmarked for helping SMEs, custom buildings and developers using modern methods of construction, which will support the construction of 25,500 dwellings.

Meanwhile, around 310 local authorities have published brownfield registers, detailing over 26,000 hectares of land across more than 16,000 sites. Homes England will use the registers to progress developments.

The agency has already been supporting developments, including 10,000 new homes on brownfield land north-west of Cambridge and a 3,200-home site in South Yorkshire.

Nick Walkley, chief executive of Homes England, said: “As Homes England, we will use our land, finance and expertise to expand the delivery of affordable new homes and connect ambitious partners to remove barriers to housebuilding.”

Homes England chairman Sir Ed Lister added: “We will take the lead in delivering better quality homes and great places that set the bar high for others. We will also stimulate demand for modern methods of construction and ultimately disrupt the housing market.”

According to the latest government figures, 154,220 homes were completed in England in the year to September.

In 2016, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee said at least 300,000 new homes a year would be needed “for the foreseeable future” in order to tackle the housing crisis.

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