Housing Secretary Sajid Javid has set out an ambition for more than 300,000 new homes to be built each year by the mid-2020s.
The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government was speaking on a visit to a new housing development in Cambridgeshire where he launched Homes England, the new government agency which is replacing the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
He said that housing affordability was the “biggest housing issue in this country”, and while increasing the number of homes built from round 217,000 per year to 300,000 was a “big ask” he believes it is achievable.
He described Homes England as “the new government agency which is part of our plan to make sure we’re building far more homes in this country”.
He continued: “What this agency will do, and today here where we are in Cambridgeshire is a fantastic example of it, is help to assemble land, especially brownfield land, that can be developed into homes and work with those developers, help them with infrastructure and particularly focus on what I call the small and medium-size developers to help them build the homes that we need.”
Asked how the launch of Homes England was more than a rebrand from its predecessor the HCA, he said: “One thing that’s very different from before is the new agency has a lot more power, including a lot more what I would call firepower, so a lot more financial resources for example.
“One good way of demonstrating that is investment in infrastructure and what we found is to bring more housing sites forward and to bring them forward more quickly it really helps if you can invest in the road and rail links and other types of infrastructure that you need.
“If you can do it upfront, so you can show the local community that that infrastructure will definitely be there, I think you will get a lot more interest and you can bring forward a lot more sites.”
He said he wanted to see “a dramatic increase in annual numbers” of new homes built.
“What I’ve set out is by the middle of the next decade I want to see the current, around 217,000, number rise to at least 300,000,” he said. “That’s a big ask but I’m sure we can do it if we continue to work in partnership with developers, with local councils and others to get this done.”
He continued: “Housing affordability I think is the biggest issue in housing in this country and there’s far too many people, particularly younger families, that feel that owning or even renting a decent home is out of their reach.
“Clearly that’s not acceptable, so in the long term what we’ve got to continue doing is to increase the number of homes built each year.
“We’re at almost a 10-year high at the moment but we need to do a lot more.”
He said that in the short term “more immediate” help on offer included schemes such as Help To Buy and the lowering of taxes such as the cut in Stamp Duty.