Ground & Water responds to the autumn budget 2017.
300,000 was a popular number in the Chancellor’s 2017 autumn budget statement. And on two occasions it was applied to the housing market.
The government stated it wants to raise housing supply to 300,000 new homes per year by the mid 2020s. It is making an additional £15 billion of financial support available, bringing the total to £44 billion over the next 9 years.
Also announced was its intent to reform planning to ensure more land is available for new housing and to maximise the potential of land in towns and cities, where most demand lies.
The additional funding covers £1.5 billion for SME builders in the form of loans and £630 million made available as grants for small sites to improve infrastructure and for remediation work. £1 billion will be made available to local authorities, enabling them to borrow more to fund council homes. £2.7 million in local authority grants will be made available to build strategic infrastructure that unlocks sites for new housing and a further £1.1 billion of funding is in place to assemble fragmented parcels of land into ready to go sites for developers. There is money to improve run-down urban estates in the Midlands and the North and £8 billion of new financial guarantees are now available to support private sector house building.
The Budget 2017 outlines plans for five public/private finance garden towns and the government will consult on a range of measures to ensure permissioned land is used. Helping people to buy all these additional homes is where the other 300,000 comes in. The government abolished stamp duty for first time buyers paying up to £300,000 and £500,000 in London.
Chancellor Philip Hammond, knows a thing or two about building houses. He co-founded Castlemead Limited in 1984. He resigned his directorship in 2010 and his shares are now in trust. Castlemead has been subject to criticism in the national press recently for sitting on permissioned land for investment purposes. Ironically, this is one area where the government wants to introduce tougher consequences on developers, including compulsory purchase, if planned homes are not built.
On the surface the government’s latest intervention announced in the Budget 2017, is good news for all parts of the construction sector. And especially for SME builders; the sector Ground & Water has been providing geoenvironmental and geotechnical engineering services to for the last nine years.
The Chancellor stated that when looking for land to develop the government wants to protect the green belt. This means better use of underused land in towns and cities and other brown field sites. And government wants to require local authorities to bring forward 20% of their housing supply as fast-build small sites. Looking under the surface, there will be an increased requirement for detailed site investigation and remediation work.
300,000 new homes a year is a big challenge. At Ground & Water, our team of engineers are up for that challenge and are looking forward to providing the solutions house builders in London and the South of England require.