The Housing White Paper. An LHC view.

According to the 104 page White Paper ‘Fixing our broken housing market’, presented to Parliament on February 7th 2017, the South West is the second most unaffordable area in UK, after London and the South East.

The South Hams, Teignbridge, and West Dorset are particularly unaffordable with median house prices 10-14 times median earnings.

Home ownership remains beyond many; and with rents outstripping mortgage repayments in many locations young people may have no option other than to live at home, or share with friends. At a recent public consultation I attended for a development of starter homes in Honiton, we had 20 young people registering their interest in purchasing starter homes, and strong support from the community and local ward councillors for new homes that would allow locals to purchase homes within the area.

The approach set out in the White Paper recognises that the housing market is complex and there isn’t a single solution.  The Government therefore propose four steps to increase delivery of housing:

Planning for the right homes in the right places
Building homes faster
Diversifying the housing market
Helping people now

Starter Homes
LHC are currently working on a number of pilot Starter Home projects with the Homes and Communities Agency. The White Paper provides much anticipated clarity regarding Starter Homes, confirming that they are to be classed as an affordable home ownership product.

  • The current ‘Starter Home Exception Site’ policy remains in force – therefore land that is under-used or no longer viable for commercial use is considered to be appropriate for Starter Homes
  • Starter Homes will be available to households with an income of less than £80,000 (£90,000 for London). Eligible first time buyers will also be required to have a mortgage in order to buy Starter Homes to stop cash buyers.
  • There will be a 15 year repayment period for a starter home so when the property is sold on to a new owner within this period, some or all of the discount is repaid.
  • General duty on councils to promote the supply of Starter Homes.
Starter Homes at Foundry Yard, Honiton

How LHC work with our clients to deliver high quality housing
LHC’s holistic design approach helps to deliver high quality housing development. Our comprehensive design approach reduces delays during the planning process and provides greater certainty to our clients and local authorities by:

  • Working with clients, consultants, stakeholders and local authorities to develop high quality design proposals that are supported by the local community. At Plumb Park, Exmouth, we secured outline planning consent for 300 houses on a sensitive site at the edge of the AONB and The Avenues Conservation Area. The scheme was complimented by the local authority for its design quality, which draws on local character and includes an integrated landscape framework. The scheme was recently granted detailed planning consent and is being delivered by Clinton Devon Estates in partnership with Taylor Wimpey.
  • Engaging in meaningful consultation with local communities to inform our design proposals and ensure schemes reflect local concerns and character. At Sawmills Field, Dartington, our contemporary design for Cavanna Homes was developed through an extensive consultation process. The 63 home scheme has now completely sold, and the next phase will shortly be submitted for detailed planning.
Sawmills Field, Dartington
  • Reducing the potential reasons for refusal to avoid costly and time consuming planning appeals. Our proposals for 60 homes at Mead Park, Barnstaple, were recently allowed at planning appeal. Our design approach and pre-application discussions with the local planning authority removed any potential objections on design grounds, reducing the risk to our client.
Sawmills Field, Dartington
  • Working with other consultants and developing a thorough understanding of site constraints we reduce potential costs and delays by designing out problems at the early design stage; improving viability and reducing risk. At Stowford Mill, Ivybridge, we worked closely with heritage and ecological consultants to understand the site constraints and propose appropriate development that enhanced the quality of the site and secured planning approval.
  • Thinking comprehensively about design from the outset, working across our in house disciplines to resolve potential design problems at the outset. At Culverdale, Totnes, our in-house architects and technologists worked closely with our urban designers to ensure that the proposed dwellings could be delivered on this steeply sloping site.
  • Working closely with property consultants we help local authorities to develop masterplans, design briefs and local development orders that facilitate viable development, providing certainty and clarity to all parties and unlocking potential development. In Taunton, our Rethink proposals have set out a framework for mixed-use development proposals that the Taunton Deane Borough Council have used as the basis for regeneration of a number of town centre sites.

Author: Paul Osborne, LHC Urban Design Director

Click here to go to the full White Paper “Fixing our broken housing market”