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New pilot scheme to boost housebuilding

With the number of new homes being built across the UK still significantly below the level needed to meet demand, a new government-backed pilot scheme launches today to help alleviate some of the challenges and obstacles facing residential property developers by unblocking infrastructure hold ups that are delaying the construction of more much needed residential properties.

The failure to construct enough homes means that Britain’s housing shortage has now reached crisis point, with the number of prospective buyers and renters dramatically outweighing the volume of homes on the market. But the new pilot scheme, set up by The Housing & Finance Institute, will seek to identify, assess and then unblock infrastructure problems in order to speed up housebuilding.

The scheme will pay particular attention to housing developments that have been delayed due to a lack of water, sewage, electricity, gas or road connectivity.

The Housing & Finance Institute last year published a major report which highlighted how failing water companies are severely infringing the ability of private developers to build more residential properties.

The pilot scheme is being carried out in the South East with the help of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, the Home Builders Federation, Laing O’Rourke, Anglian Water, Kent County Council, Essex County Council, KeepMoat, the chair of the APPG for Infrastructure and the Department for Communities and Local Government. If successful, the plan is to roll the scheme out across the UK in 2017.

Natalie Elphicke, who previously authored the Treasury sponsored Elphicke-House housing report, says that the lack of local infrastructure on new housing sites is drastically slowing down the rate of new homes coming onto the market.

Elphicke, chief executive of The Housing & Finance Institute, commented: “When we speak to housing developers, they often say it is water, electricity, gas, broadband and roads which are impeding their ability to build more homes faster.

“Water and sewage connectivity is a particular problem, with some water companies completely failing to deliver what housing developers require. This has been slowing down the rate of housing completions right across the country.

“Our hope is that this new pilot scheme, which brings together key players from the private and public sectors, will provide us with a blueprint for fixing these issues and facilitating accelerated housing growth.”

The scheme will run until May 2017, with its initial report due by the end of January 2017, and its findings being reported to housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell MP and Stephen Hammond MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on infrastructure.

Barwell commented: “This government is committed to speeding up housing delivery and ensuring that everyone plays their part towards building the homes our country needs.

 “I welcome this new pilot scheme and its focus on identifying ways of working together to overcome infrastructure barriers, and I look forward to seeing the initial report on its findings.”

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