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Government blueprint to fix 'broken' housing market revealed

Plans to fix the "broken" housing market and boost housebuilding across England have been unveiled by the Government.

The moves aim to speed up the housebuilding process and encourage innovation from smaller builders, as well as helping renters.

But the plans also drew suggestions that the Government had "thrown in the towel" on the idea of home ownership being for everyone.

Under the reforms set out in a white paper, every local area will need to produce plans to make sure enough land is released in areas where people want to live.

Currently, 40% of local planning authorities do not have an up-to-date plan that meets the projected growth in households in their area, the Government said.

The plans will also see housebuilding timescales shortened, requiring developers to start building within two years instead of three, when planning permission is granted.

More action has also been promised to help small independent builders enter the market through the £3 billion Home Building Fund.

The Government also plans to make it easier for developers to offer affordable private rental homes.

It is also working with the British Property Federation and the National Housing Federation to ensure that "family friendly" tenancies of three or more years are available for renters wanting longer-term tenancies.

Labour said the plans did not go far enough.

Shadow secretary of state for housing John Healey said: "We were promised a white paper; we've got a white flag."

Nick Leeming, chairman of estate agents Jackson-Stops and Staff, said: "The Government has thrown in the towel on Britain as a nation of home owners."

The Government also said that, to limit the pressure on the countryside, as much use should be made of previously-developed "brownfield" land for homes as possible.

It also has plans to release surplus public land with a capacity for 160,000 homes during this Parliament.

Better use should be made of land by encouraging high-density housebuilding, the white paper said.

It added: "When people picture high-density housing, they tend to think of unattractive tower blocks, but some of the most desirable places to live in the capital are in areas of higher density mansion blocks, mews houses and terraced streets."

The Government emphasised it would retain a "high bar" to ensure the green belt remains protected.

It also said starter homes such as shared ownership homes should be available to those who need them most, with an income of less than £80,000 or £90,000 in London.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Walk down your local high street today and there's one sight you're almost certain to see.

"Young people, faces pressed against the estate agent's window, trying and failing to find a home they can afford.

"With prices continuing to skyrocket, if we don't act now, a whole generation could be left behind."

Housing Minister Gavin Barwell said: "We owe it to our children and our grandchildren to fix the broken housing market problems and help them find a home of their own."

Councillor Martin Tett, housing spokesman at the Local Government Association (LGA), said: "C ouncils desperately need the powers and access to funding to resume their historic role as a major builder of affordable homes.

"This means being able to borrow to invest in housing and to keep 100% of the receipts from properties sold through Right to Buy to replace homes and reinvest in building more of the genuine affordable homes our communities desperately need."

Graeme Brown, interim chief executive of Shelter, said: "The white paper poses the right questions, what we need now is quick and bold action that helps people in need of a decent home tomorrow, not in 10 years."

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said: "The industry is determined to meet the challenges laid down by Government and help deliver more homes more quickly."

A consultation on the proposals runs until May 2.

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