The communities secretary has unveiled a package of measures to boost the housing market, including deferring fees paid by developers during the planning process, and permitting councils to publicise scheme proposals on social media for the first time.
Robert Jenrick’s plan to get the housing market moving again is the latest signal of the Government’s intent to kick-start the national economy, after the Prime Minister urged construction work to recommence on Sunday and unveiled a strategy for a phased return to workplaces over the coming months.
Under the plans, smaller developers will be able to temporarily defer payment of the ‘community infrastructure levy’ to local authorities, to help their cash flow. The Government has not yet detailed the criteria for what size developers will be eligible for this perk.
Meanwhile, local authorities have been given the green light to publicise planning applications to their local communities through social media, “instead of having to rely on posters and leaflets”, as current rules stipulate.
Jenrick also announced that estate agents can return to work and viewings and completions can re commence, provided certain safety guidelines are adhered to.
The Government said it expects the move to unfreeze the housing market to allow around 450,000 stalled transactions to progress, after restrictions on buying, selling and renting properties were imposed in March.
To boost the number of new homes being delivered, Jenrick is also permitting housebuilders to extend working hours on construction sites in order to stagger start times and ease pressure on public transport.
Ian Fletcher, director of real estate policy at industry body British Property Federation, said: “With over 33,000 new build-to-rent homes under construction [across the country], it will come as a relief that these homes can now be occupied as they complete and the sector’s customers can think about settling into their new homes.”
Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, added: “The industry sustains hundreds of thousands of people in numerous roles and associated sectors, boosting local economies across the country.
“A resumption of work will play a major part in helping the economy recover as well as delivering the homes the country needs.”