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UK Housing Market

Gove’s planning shake-up set to unlock 11,500 new homes

England’s twenty biggest towns and cities set to witness a significant boost in brownfield development 
David Hannah, Group Chairman of Cornerstone Tax, whilst welcoming the government’s shift in priorities, urges the Levelling Up Department to pursue more than ‘piecemeal tinkering’  

Tuesday saw the Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove outline a host of new policies intended to boost the UK’s struggling housing supply amidst political pressure ahead of the upcoming General Election. The package of measures aims to shake-up the current process for planning permission, making it easier for developers to build on derelict – brownfield – sites across England’s 20 biggest towns and cities. Ministers are currently hoping that the new policies will lead to an extra 11,500 homes being built in London alone, with nationwide estimates yet to be shared. According to David Hannah, Group Chairman of Cornerstone Tax, the UK’s leading property tax advisory, welcomes the government’s shift in priorities, but argues that the proposed package is “too little too late”.

"Tuesday’s announcement from the Levelling Up Department amounts to desperate political tinkering from a government that’s long-neglected the ongoing housing crisis."

David Hannah
Group Chairman 


The government’s proposed “brownfield-first approach” will prioritise new developments on sites such as old car parks and former industrial estates, with the announcement aiming to “turbocharge” planning in towns and cities that fail to hit 95% of their housebuilding targets. Despite this, experts from across both property and construction sectors have criticised the new rules as inadequate, failing to make up for previous policies that have caused significant damage to construction volumes, such as Rishi Sunak’s decision to scrap compulsory housebuilding targets in late 2022. 

According to David Hannah, the move amounts to “piecemeal tinkering” from a government that’s continuously neglected to resolve the fundamental challenges of the UK’s housing market. The abolition of housing targets and the Sunak’s concession on his pledge to build 300,000 new homes by the mid-2020s proves that the Conservatives are struggling to decide where their priorities lie. Hannah asserts that the government should focus on reforming the private rental sector, resolving the obstacles that prevent new landlords from entering the market and continue to contribute to the current affordability crisis across the UK’s cities.   

David Hannah, Group Chairman of Cornerstone Tax, comments:
“Tuesday’s announcement from the Levelling Up Department amounts to desperate political tinkering from a government that’s long-neglected the ongoing housing crisis. 
Gove must prioritise whether “houses” or “homes” are more important to the voting public, the current crisis in the rental sector continues to put many would-be buyers off of making that first big purchase – this can be demonstrated across the country, where an increasing number of landlords have left the market in response to the rising costs associated with their property.

This crisis could be eased by removing the second home surcharge from bona fide private rental sector investors giving them a reduction in their acquisition costs and also reinstating full relief for mortgage interest payments in common with other businesses that have to borrow money to provide their services. 
This double measure would have both reduced the costs of purchase, whilst allowing landlords to freeze, or even potentially cut, rents which have had to have both these penal measures “costed in” over the last few years. It would also stimulate purchases in the market at a time when owner occupiers are unable to purchase because of affordability issues.”  

David Hannah, Group Chairman
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