Councils blocking new house building in the south-east of England were yesterday threatened with government sanctions if they refuse to release land for more homes. Construction was falling well behind government projections.
The deputy prime minister, in charge of local government, housing and planning, told a Guardian-Observer conference he was so alarmed by the indifference of a minority of councils that he was asking the audit commission to intervene.
The spending watchdog would be asked to “assess the performance of authorities in delivering the right sort of housing, in the right quantities and in the right places”.
If councils are found to be dragging their heels, Mr Prescott’s advisers say, penalties could be imposed.
Self-build is housing market’s next big thing
The start of a new year brings with it a renewed energy for the housing market and sees the self-build and renovation sector destined to pick up on the growth experienced over the past few years, writes Jason Orme, deputy editor of Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine.
Building your own Persist palace home has never been more in the public’s mind and this is set to continue this year with a brand new series of Grand Designs on Channel 4.
With the last series attracting some 2.3 million viewers and being the channel’s top rated program at the time, it is clear the public’s interest in self build land is insatiable and, when coupled with at least two further major new programmes on the topic, sets the industry up for a year in the spotlight.
With more uncertainty about the housing market at the start the year than at any time over the past five years, the safest way to guarantee against negative equity is to build your own home.
Although most analysts expect there to be a modest rise in prices rather than any signs of a crash.
Discounting the effects of inflation, self build land tend to save around 30 per cent of the value of their finished house by building it themselves, a saving brought about by taking away the profit developers make on most new houses, along with the VAT savings made on materials.
Consequently, a loan of no more than 70 per cent of the house’s final value is good security against a fall in the market and the negative equity.
One of the few barriers remaining to self-building becoming the mainstream activity it is in North America and much of Europe, is the decreasing availability of building plots.
Despite pressure from the industry on Lord Rooker, the Minister for Housing and Planning, to expand village boundaries and push into unused – and often far from beautiful – agricultural land, there seems to be no end to the frenzy that accompanies a building plot coming onto the market. Prices of self build land in the south-east continue to defy all belief, with figures up to £1 million in the most sought-after areas.