RICS responds to the council house building announcement

Lewis Johnston, RICS Parliamentary Affairs Manager:

“It is over 65 years since a Conservative Conference committed the party to delivering 300,000 homes a year. With today’s housing challenge no less urgent, the Prime Minister’s plan to unleash the first major government housebuilding programme in decades indicates the kind of ambition we need to tackle the housing crisis.

In 1968, councils accounted for 40 per cent of all housebuilding and today’s plan is an acknowledgement that councils are an important part of the solution to the supply crisis, although it will be interesting to see how this announcement works with the recent expansion of right to buy. The RICS manifesto before June’s election said councils should be given the freedom to borrow against their asset base to build homes or support other providers. Whether this is through councils building themselves or working in partnership, it’s a vital step towards fulfilling the ambitions of the Housing White Paper to deliver 250,000 homes a year.

The success of the plan depends on the Government’s willingness to tackle the other obstacles to building. Alongside the already announced measures we need bold reforms of the planning system and a deep-seated resolve to unlock the potential of modern methods of construction. These were central discussion topics at our Reception with the Housing Minister this week, and we are looking forward to working closely with the government so the expertise of our professionals can be put to maximum effect”