Starter Homes and Garden Villages

Posted on 04 January 2017

Government announcements on Starter Homes and Garden Villages

Mishcon de Reya Planning Lawyer Daniel Farrand last night featured on BBC North West Tonight discussing the Government's announcements that thousands of Starter Homes will be built this year along with the creation of England's first Garden Villages on 14 sites across the country.

"This is not new money, it's money that was already put into funds by the Government. What we've heard about is allocations of that money to specific areas. That's got to be good news for the bringing forward of housing more quickly and in the areas the Government thinks it's important to bring forward. Whether it's a complete solution to the housing crisis is a completely different question – it's only a drop in the ocean."

"The Starter Homes initiative is somewhat controversial. There is a real question as to whether it will actually enable affordability – it’s a one-time discount. It may be that it gets distracted into arguments about suitability of starter homes rather than the delivery of the houses.

"Garden Villages are a good idea but various governments over the years have tried to deliver new settlements, usually with some sort of Garden Village or Eco Towns branding. They are not always successful, they don't always survive the change of government. One thing the Government could do is put forward some sort of development corporation or other vehicle which is properly funded that drives this forward. Those can be controversial as well, but if they have the right kind of buy in – the right kind of consultation – where people hear about the proposals and have an opportunity to properly feed in to them, they can be taken outside the day to day running of the local authority.

"Brownfield sites have been the starting point for the planning system for quite a few years now, but they can be very difficult to deliver, particularly where they have industrial heritage where there might be contamination. That's what Starter Homes money is really all about: it's nothing to do with Starter Homes – that's a government commitment to deliver a certain kind of product –the money is for site assembly, bringing sites together, maybe from different ownerships, and then making sure that they are clean, that they have proper planning to be delivered. That is a really important barrier that needs to be overcome. The other one is infrastructure – the Eco Towns and Garden Village proposals throughout history have all been about delivering the proper infrastructure to allow development to take place. If they can have access to that money, these government measures could work."

View the programme here (Daniel's interview begins 8.30 minutes in. Available until 1 February).