The Right Honourable Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government was a guest of audit, tax and consulting firm RSM last week at an event attended by local social housing, property and construction chief executives.
The Secretary of State took the opportunity to discuss the current challenges in the housing market and to set out how the government intends to tackle them, focusing on three of the main themes in the recent Housing White Paper.
First, he outlined that he is tasking local authorities with leading in the production of local plans which identify the provision of the right homes in the right places based on an objective analysis of need - the goal being to significantly increase house building from 190,000 per year to 200,000 or more per year.
Second, he touched on speed of delivery confirming that there will be a delivery test for all local authorities with the objective of speeding up the time from idea to build.
Finally, he focused on diversification, arguing that he wanted more small and medium-sized builders to compete in the market, with different sizes of plots being made available for development. He also urged builders to embrace alternative, non-traditional methods of construction using modern technologies and promised to tackle the delays and inconsistencies in the current building regulations and planning process.
Other speakers at the event, held at the Bromsgrove Hotel in Birmingham, included Kelly Boorman, head of RSM’s property and construction group, Keith Ward, chair of RSM’s social housing group, Andrew Robinson, consultant from Midlands property company Colmore Tang and Mike Brown, chief executive of Bromsgrove District Housing Association.
Keith Ward from RSM said:
‘We were very grateful to the Secretary of State for attending our event and speaking so passionately about the government’s plans to solve the housing crisis across the Midlands.
‘Many of the attendees acknowledged that the current administration wants to work in partnership with housebuilders and social housing providers, which is good news both for our social housing and our property and construction clients.
‘This event also provided a perfect opportunity for the region’s housing and property professionals to raise their concerns directly with the Secretary of State – specifically about challenges in the planning process and the need for greater certainty with regard to rent setting in the social housing sector.’
RSM also took the opportunity to launch its 10th annual social housing ‘Health of the Sector’ survey which found that the sector is relatively optimistic about the prospects for accelerating development plans in the year ahead, despite some potential headwinds.