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Weekly News Summary

Friday, 15 September 2017

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Quick Links | News | Economics & Statistics | Planning | Skills | Events |

Top stories this week

  • Housing minister on planning, Help to Buy and build more
  • UK Finance: Remortgaging strengthens in more
  • Planning for the right homes in the right places: consultation more
  • Home Building Skills Pledge – have you signed? more


Housing minister on planning, Help to Buy and build quality.

Housing minister Alok Sharma gave a wide-ranging speech at the Resi Conference in South Wales yesterday. 

He admitted it had not been the easiest of starts with the Grenfell Tower disaster that has taken up most of his time since. He said it had focused his mind on addressing the challenges faced.

On the more general challenge of housing delivery he said that it was “absolutely clear to me and that is that we absolutely need to build more homes. And faster. Whether the homes are to buy, or to rent. We also need to improve the quality and design of those homes. We need to change the public mind set towards new development. We need to make sure individuals who need help to buy a home, get that help. And that housing, whether to buy or rent, is more affordable.”

He committed to delivering the White Paper and said that Government would publish a draft new National Planning Policy Framework early next year that “will mean that plans will start from an honest assessment of the need for new homes. More land and a more diverse range of sites will be brought forward in places that people want to live. And we want to see greater focus on getting sites built-out.”

On planning fees, he said that Government was considering an increase of a further 20% for those authorities who are delivering the homes their communities need on top of the 20% increase proposed in the white paper.

“What I have heard from the developers that I have talked to, both small and large, is that they welcome this as a way of speeding up decision making.”

On Help to Buy Sharma recognised that the industry needed certainty and said that he was “committed to working with the sector to consider the future of the scheme.”

Sharma said he also recognised the concerns of the industry with regards to Brexit in terms of skills and training and that he was “making the construction industry’s case” within Government. He also said he recognised the efforts of the industry to tackle the skills crisis. He went on to say that he felt that the industry was fragmented “And I do wonder whether developers in the sector needs to think harder about employing people direct. Helping to ensure quality and providing an incentive to ensure the workforce is trained properly. And I can tell you from discussions I have had with developers, I know that some of them are thinking along these lines already.”

Sharma then shifted to build quality. “We don’t just expect more, and faster build out. We also expect quality. Over the past couple of months, one fact in particular has really stood out to me. The latest housing survey carried out by the Home Builders Federation found that 84% of new home buyers would recommend their builder to a friend. This figure has fallen steadily from 90% four years ago. This means 16% of new home buyers would not recommend their builder to a friend. In any other market, this would spell the end of the most poorly performing companies. We have seen this dynamic play out for some companies in the sector. But overall the sector has not really been impacted. I want to see the quality of new homes, and levels of customer satisfaction, improve across the industry. A new home is one of the largest financial commitments that people make. Home builders need to step up and make this a priority. This includes making sure that, where something goes wrong, house builders and warranty providers fulfil their obligations to put this right. There are mechanisms in place for redress – such as the Consumer Code for Home Builders – but these can be complex and don’t always provide full coverage. And those of you who follow what’s happening in Parliament there is a growing number of calls for the Government to introduce a New Homes Ombudsman. The HBF has commissioned an independent report to look at consumer protection in the new homes market. I will review all of the recommendations and suggestions that are coming forward through this report and from others with an interest in this area. “

Read the full speech here

Evidence sought for building regulations review

The Government’s independent review into building regulations has called for evidence of “gaps, inconsistencies and/or overlaps” and has asked respondents to consider if current legislation is “clear and well understood”

The Review is being led by Dame Judith Hackitt. Its purpose is to make recommendations that will ensure we have a sufficiently robust regulatory system for the future and to provide further assurance to residents that the complete system is working to ensure the buildings they live in are safe and remain so. It will examine building and fire safety regulations and related compliance and enforcement. The focus will be on multi occupancy high rise residential buildings.

Responses should be submitted by 13 October 2017 to:

The Review will report jointly to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and Home Secretary Amber Rudd. An interim report will be submitted in autumn 2017 and a final report submitted in spring 2018. The Review will co-operate fully with the public inquiry, and Dame Judith Hackitt will review her recommendations in the light of the findings of the inquiry.

Opens: 12 September 2017

Closes: 13 October 2017

Read more

Grenfell Inquiry will be carried out in two stages, says Moore-Bick

The Chair of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, Sir Martin Moore-Brick announced that the investigation into the causes of the disaster would take place in two stages. The first part of the inquiry will examine the cause and spread of the fire, including the “chain of events” during the fire until it was extinguished. This includes a review of the emergency services’ response and the building evacuation. The second part will look at how design and construction elements played a “significant role” in allowing the spread of the fire. Sir Martin Moore-Brick said this stage was particularly important in case there are “similar defects” in other tower blocks, upon which “steps must be taken quickly to ensure that those who live in them are kept safe”

Grenfell: Sprinkler systems in just 2pc of social housing tower blocks, investigation finds

The Public Inquiry into the Grenfell fire disaster has found that one in fifty flats in the tower block were fitted with a full sprinkler system. A Freedom of Information request also showed that 68% of the blocks owned by council and housing associations in the UK have one staircase by which to evacuate.  Sprinklers were made compulsory in new-build high rises over 30m tall in England, but retrofitting to older properties, like Grenfell, were not made compulsory. 

London Fire Brigade: Fire Chief urges action on sprinklers as Grenfell Inquiry opens

Now is the time for action on sprinklers in residential high-rise buildings and schools, warns London Fire Brigade as the Grenfell Tower Inquiry formally opens.

They  are renewing their call for residential tower blocks and new school builds to have sprinklers.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said: "The tragic fire at Grenfell has thrown fire safety into the spotlight and while we are not pre-empting the findings of the Inquiry, now is the time to remind Government of life-saving recommendations we have been making for years.

"We are calling for residential tower blocks to be retrofitted with sprinklers and they should be mandatory in all new school builds and major refurbishments.

"Sprinklers are the only fire safety system that detects a fire, suppresses a fire and raises the alarm. They save lives and protect property and they are especially important where there are vulnerable residents who would find it difficult to escape, like those with mobility problems.

"My priority is to save lives but I can also make an economic case for sprinklers. It costs around £1,500 - £2,500 to retrofit a flat, while the cost of refurbishing a one-bedroom flat after a fire is about £77,000."

They are calling for:

  • The retrofitting of sprinklers in all residential high-rise tower blocks, as part of an appropriate package of fire safety measures
  • Sprinklers to be installed in all school new builds and major refurbishments

Read more

CIH 2017 UK housing Review

An analysis conducted by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) shows that the government will spend 80% of its investment through to 2020/21 on private housing programmes. The largest investment in private housing is the £12.5bn bill for the Help to Buy: Equity Loan Scheme. Of the total budget of £40bn, £32bn will be channelled into private housing, in comparison to £8bn on programmes for shared ownership and sub market rent. 

Adam Smith Institute Report: “Yes in My Back Yard”

A report by the Adam Smith Institute, Yes In My Back Yard – How to end the housing crisis, boost the economy and win more votes’, has proposed a set of three proposals to end the UK’s housing crisis, which it argues is “among the worst in the world”. These proposals include allowing individual streets to vote on extending or replacing buildings, which “coupled with a design code chosen by the street, could allow up to 5 million new homes to be built over a generation in London alone”; empowering local parishes to swap unused land on their greenbelt for development; and devolving increased powers to metro mayors to choose different planning regimes for their areas. The report finds that that by following these suggestions, “the UK could boost GDP per capita by 30%”

Resolution Foundation: Millennials would rather have grown up in an earlier time

Britons across all age groups no longer believe that young people today will have a better life than their parents, with pessimism strongest among graduates and high earners, according to new analysis by Ipsos MORI for the Resolution Foundation published today (Saturday).

The report, based on a survey of over 2,000 adults commissioned for the Foundation's Intergenerational Commission, finds widespread concern about young people's prospects that is shared across society.

Overall, people were more than twice as likely to say that young people today will have a worse standard of life compared to their parents (48%) than a better standard of life (23%). There has been a sharp turnaround in views compared to 15 years ago, as the proportion of people who think their children will have a better life than them has halved.

This pessimism was strongest among those with a degree (57% of whom think young people will have a worse standard of life than their parents) and earning over £55,000 a year (55% worse, compared to 44% for those earning under £20,000). While concern was strongest among millennials themselves (53% worse), their pessimism was shared by generation X (47%) and baby boomers (44%).

Young people's concern about their own prospects is so strong that, highly unusually, many would rather have grown up in an earlier time – despite major social, technical and economic progress. One in three millennials (33%) agree that they would prefer to have grown up when their parents were children, compared to 32% who disagree.

In contrast, just 15 per cent of baby boomers and generation X said they'd prefer to be a young person growing up today.

This widespread pessimism comes despite people thinking that young people will be better off than their parents in many aspects of their lives. The survey's youth outlook scores (the proportion of people saying that the young will have a better life than their parents on certain issues, minus those saying they will be worse off) were strongly positive in terms of access to information and entertainment (+67), traveling (+34), freedom to be true to themselves (+26) and education (+22).

The Foundation says tackling the living standards challenges that lie behind this widespread anxiety about the direction of Britain for young people is a central task of our politics today.

Read more

Conservatives scramble to reverse slump in support among young

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, has called for submissions from Conservative MPs on how to close the wealth gap between generations. In the recent General Election, The Conservative Party only secured a majority in voters aged over 47. As a result, The Prime Minister, Theresa May is expected to identify key policies that will appeal to young voters at the Conservative party conference in October. The Financial Times reports that one senior Conservative MP, has said “we need ideas to help improve that situation, whether on housing or tuition fees”. It is expected that the policies outlined by Theresa May will see an boost in housebuilding and an effort to help young people access the housing ladder. 

Theresa May’s ex-policy chief calls on her to copy Germany’s housing model and pour money into social housing

A former senior adviser to Prime Minister, Theresa May called on her to pour “money into social housing”. Former No 10 Head of Policy John Godfrey is reported to have said the biggest tool to tackling “Britain's housing crisis is to accelerate the supply of social housing on fixed term rent deals where tenants have the right to buy after 15 years”. He was speaking at a Policy Exchange event.

Britain needs more accessible housing

A letter co-signed by representatives of Habinteg, the Chartered Institute for Housing, Age UK and nine others warns that: “Demand for accessible homes is growing, yet just 7% of the nation’s housing provides even basic accessibility features.” According to the signatories, this problem is likely to increase in proportion with a rise in the number of people with disabilities and longer life expectancy. “Together we are calling for more action from government, local authorities and developers to ensure new homes are inclusively designed with effective planning for the current and future housing needs of disabled people. Greater understanding and recognition of the long-term financial and social value that inclusive housing can bring is crucial.

Read more

Homes for the North; 500,000 new homes needed

A report commissioned by Homes for the North has suggested that over 500,000 new homes will be needed across the North of England over the next decade. The report found that affordable homes to rent will be in the highest demand, due to the number of young working families and graduates in the area. Chair of Homes for the North, Mark Henderson said that “while much of the debate over projected demand has been centred around the capital, our research shows that almost a third of new homes in England will be required across our northern regions”.

Read more

Labour Party: Growing the city regions is critical for the future growth and sustainability of the UK economy

Andrew Gwynne MP, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, commenting on the Core Cities UK Green Paper, said:

"Growing the city regions is critical for the future growth and sustainability of the UK economy; if the UK's cities succeed then all of the country succeeds.

"The Core Cities UK Green Paper is a chance to embrace new ideas and to unlock the potential of all our cities. That's why Labour supports this cross-party work which has the potential to transform housing and the industrial strategies of our cities.

"The next Labour Government will deliver fair and adequate funding for our councils, as well as delivering real and meaningful devolution to our communities – a Britain that works for the many and not the few."

Economics & Statistics

UK Finance: Remortgaging strengthens in July

UK Finance data shows that lending for house purchases in July was lower than in the preceding month but higher than a year earlier: 

  • First-time buyers borrowed £5 billion, 15% lower than in June but 14% higher than in July 2016.  They took out 30,400 mortgages, down 16% on the preceding month but up 8% year-on-year.
  • Home movers borrowed £7.1 billion, 9% less than in June but 15% more than in July last year.  This equated to 32,800 loans, down 10% on June but up 10% on July 2016.
  • Remortgaging by home owners totalled £6.7 billion, 12% more than in both the preceding month and in July last year.  The number of people remortgaging totalled 36,800, up 7% on June and 10% higher than a year ago.
  • Buy-to-let lending totalled £3.2 billion, 7% higher than in June and 7% higher than in July last year.  This equated to 20,500 mortgages, 5% more than in June and 9% more than in July last year.

Commenting on the data, UK Finance’s Head of Mortgages Policy June Deasy said:

“Remortgaging strengthened in July and reached its highest level since January, with customers attracted by borrowing rates that are at or close to their historic low point. The increase in activity in July means that, over the last year, the number of people remortgaging has been at its highest since 2009.

“Lending for house purchase was lower in July than in the preceding month, and we expect the market to continue to soften a little in the coming months.”

Read more

HMRC: UK House Price Index England: July 2017

The UK House Price Index (HPI) for July 2017 has been released, showing an annual house price increase of 5.1%. This brings the average property value in the UK to £226,185. Since June 2017, house prices have increased by 1.1%. The East Midlands experienced the greatest rise in average property price over the past 12 months, increasing by 7.5%, with London experiencing the lowest annual price growth, with an increase of 2.8%. 

Autumn Budget 2017 date confirmed

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond has announced this week that the Autumn Budget will be published on Wednesday 22 November. The Chancellor said in 2016 that there will now only be one fiscal event each year, to be held in Autumn. From 2018, a Spring Statement will be read, responding to forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility, but “no major fiscal event”

Bank Rate held at 0.25%, government bond purchases at £435bn and corporate bond purchases at £10bn

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) sets monetary policy to meet the 2% inflation target, and in a way that helps to sustain growth and employment.  At its meeting ending on 13 September 2017, the MPC voted by a majority of 7-2 to maintain Bank Rate at 0.25%.  The Committee voted unanimously to maintain the stock of sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bond purchases, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, at £10 billion.  The Committee voted unanimously to maintain the stock of UK government bond purchases, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, at £435 billion.

Read more

RICS: Growth at the headline level, but regional house price picture remains mixed

There is an increasingly mixed picture across the UK housing market, according to the August 2017, UK Residential Market Survey. Although the headline level shows a return to growth, sentiment is less positive in prime central London and to a lesser extent the wider South East, alongside the North and East Anglia.

Survey in brief:

  • Mixed regional picture, with negative trend in prime central London in particular.
  • Solid growth in many regions, including Northern Ireland, North West, South West and Scotland.
  • National sales have not seen any growth since November 2016.
  • 61% of respondents expect further landlords to exit the market in the next 12 months.

Read more

Launch of UK residential real estate agency, RICS professional statement

RICS has launched an updated version of the UK residential real estate agency, RICS professional statement.

With the increased focus on the need for ethical practice and transparency in residential sales and lettings the professional statement sets out clearly the responsibilities of RICS professionals to ensure they are working to the highest ethical and professional standards.

The new statement will also include updates to mandatory guidance on Conflicts of Interest and behaviour, client money protection, and financial crime aspects.

Developed following extensive industry consultation and supported by both ARLA and NAEA the new document brings the UK statement into line with global guidelines and for the first time is mandatory for RICS professionals working in residential sales and lettings.

View and download the standard here.  

ONS: Index of private housing rental prices (IPHRP) in Great Britain: Aug 2017

The Office for National Statistics has published Index of private housing rental prices (IPHRP) in Great Britain: Aug 2017: click here to view.   

An experimental price index of prices paid for renting property from private landlords.

Bank of England: Mortgage Lenders and Administrators Statistics - 2017 Q2

The Mortgage Lenders and Administrators Return (MLAR) is a quarterly statistical release aggregated from data on mortgage lending activities provided by around 340 regulated mortgage lenders and administrators. The full report can be viewed here.

Long run versions of the summary and detailed tables are now available in Excel format, for data going back to Q1 2007. These have been sourced from data published by the FSA on their archive pages prior to Q1 2013 and data published by the Bank of England from Q1 2013.

  • There has been an increase in new residential mortgage lending activity in Q2 2017 from the previous quarter. £62.7 billion of new residential loans was advanced to individuals during Q2 2017. This was a 3.8% increase compared to the previous quarter and a 8.1% increase from the same quarter last year.
  • The share of buy-to-let (BTL) lending has decreased to 12.5% in Q2 2017; this is the lowest percentage since Q3 2013.
  • The share of new lending in the highest loan-to-income (LTI) brackets, for both single and joint incomes increased to its highest level (10.8% and 33.4% respectively) since the Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee (FPC) made its LTI flow limit recommendation in June 2014.

Read more


Planning for the right homes in the right places: consultation proposals

On Thursday 14th September the Government finally published its long awaited consultation on the standard methodology for calculating housing needs. Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government announced the consultation in the House of Commons, stating that the proposals were “an innovative approach to planning new homes that will ensure they’re built where most needed, save councils millions of pounds every year and help deliver more affordable homes.

“The new approach”, continued the SoS, “first mooted in the government’s housing white paper, will help give a realistic picture of how many homes each local area needs now and in future years. It will also mean more homes are built in areas where it is unaffordable, based on average earnings in each area”.

The SoS statement goes on to say that:

The proposals also include:

  • how neighbourhood planning groups can have greater certainty on the level of housing need to plan for
  • a statement of common ground to improve how local authorities work together to meet housing and other needs across boundaries
  • making the use of viability assessments simpler, quicker and more transparent
  • increased planning application fees in those areas where local planning authorities are delivering the homes their communities need

The new measures seek to encourage house building in local areas. In areas that struggle to meet their needs locally – for example due to strong protections for areas like the green belt – local councils will need to work with neighbouring councils to plan across a wider area.

The planned reforms will also mean that councils will have to agree how they will work with their neighbouring areas to plan for homes and supporting infrastructure such as roads and utility services.

A new statement of “common ground” is then intended to enhance cooperation across council boundaries on planning issues to plan homes including in new towns or garden villages.

Neighbouring councils will be expected to set out the cross boundary matters within an agreed area, looking at the housing need for the area, distribution of homes and plans to meet any shortfalls. If effective cooperation does not take place, government will be prepared to take action to ensure communities and neighbouring councils are not at a disadvantage and make sure the homes their area needs are planned for.

Following changes to the National Planning Policy Framework expected in 2018, councils will then have up to a year to get a statement of common ground in place.

The Secretry of state said in his oral statement on housing need:

“And it’s so important that we fulfil that commitment. Because the young people of 21st century Britain are reaching out, in increasing desperation, for the bottom rung of the housing ladder. For the comfortably-housed children of the 50s, 60s and 70s to pull that ladder up behind them would be nothing less than an act of inter-generational betrayal. One that our children and grandchildren will neither forget nor forgive. “

The consultation will close on 9 November 2017.

Further information, including the consultation document itself, can be accessed here

The full press release is also available here

HBF response

The HBF issued a full briefing note on the consultation which can be read here:

The HBF will be consulting members on the proposals set out in the consultation in the usual way and will be engaging with government officials and Ministers over the details of the proposals set out therein. Members are encouraged to respond to the consultation in their own right. Anyone who wishes to make representations to HBF are advised to contact Andrew Whitaker, HBF Planning Director on 020 7960 1600 or

Planning Applications in England, April to June 2017

Statistics from the Office for National Statistics show that Between April to June 2017, district level planning authorities in England received 123,300 applications for planning permission, down 5% on the corresponding quarter of 2016. It also indicates that they granted 98,700 decisions, down 2% from the same quarter in 2016, this is equivalent to 88% of decisions, unchanged on the same quarter of 2016.

Lack of land and lending is blocking new homes, FMB research reveals

The Federation of Master Builders' (FMB) has found that the lack of available small sites and a lack of finance are the key obstacles to small and medium-sized (SME) house builders delivering new homes. The report shows that 54% of SME builders cite "access to finance" as their greatest obstacle to building more homes. Chief Executive of the FMB, Brian Berry said "After almost a decade after the financial crisis, access to finance for small house builders is getting worse instead of better".


Secretary of State approves urban extension

In a recovered appeal for 560 dwellings on the edge of Felixtowe, Suffolk Coastal, the SoS granted planning permission. The Council was unable to demonstrate a five year supply of land for housing and the benefit of increasing housing provision outweighed the limited harm caused by the proposed development.

Appellant: Christchurch Land and Estates (Felixstowe) Ltd 

Landscape value protected

An appeal for 165 dwellings in Harrogate, North Yorkshire was dismissed. The inspector was convinced that the Council was actively seeking to address its shortfall in housing provision and had commitments for over 3,800 dwellings including some in areas of special landscape value. Development of the appeal site, also in an SLA, would, concluded the inspector, result in a cumulative environmental impact that would be unusually severe. On balance, the environmental harm outweighed the benefit of providing much needed housing.

Appellant: Duchy of Lancaster

Landscape value protected

A development for 65 dwellings in Steeple Bumpstead, Braintree, Essex was dismissed. The inspector referred to a Court decision in which a special landscape area had been deemed to be a restrictive policy for the purposes of applying paragraph 14 of the NPPF. This, alongside other issues, such as poor access to shops and facilities, meant that permission should be refused.

Appellant: Gladman Developments

Landscape value protected

An appeal for 12 dwellings in Elland, Calderdale, Yorkshire was dismissed. Although the Council was only able to demonstrate a 2 year supply of land for housing the site was important to local residents as it was in an elevated location and afforded significant visual amenity.

Appellant: P Harmer

Reserved matters cannot exclude affordable housing

An appeal against refusal of a reserved matters application in Orsett, Thurrock, Essex was dismissed. The original outline application for 14 dwellings included the requirement to provide 5 affordable dwellings. The reserved matters application was for 9 dwellings. While the change in dwelling numbers was considered by the inspector to fall within the scope of a reserved matters application the non-compliance with the legal agreement to provide affordable housing could not be separated from the outline consent.

Appellant: R Lockwood

Plan policies not over-ridden by permitted development

A proposal to demolish and replace an office building with 118 flats in Canterbury was dismissed. Although the appellants pointed out that the conversion of the building to residential use would be permitted development the inspector refused planning permission for the demolition and replacement as this would involve loss of employment opportunity in a highly sustainable business location. The proposal was thus contrary to the local plan policy seeking to protect the local economy. Such policies were not over-ridden by permitted development rights since they were the starting point of any decision.

Appellant: British Telecommunications Plc

Sustainable location allowed

An appeal for 10 bungalows in Thorrington, Tendring, Essex was allowed. Although the Council was able to demonstrate a five year supply of land for housing the development would boost that supply. The location was sustainable in all other respects.

Appellant: M Scott Properties Ltd

Council withdraws objection

An appeal for 142 dwellings in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria was allowed. The Council had withdrawn its objections to the proposed development on the second day of the public inquiry accepting that it could not demonstrate a five year supply of land for housing. The Council acknowledged that the adverse impact of the development did not outweigh the benefits of meeting housing needs.

Appellant: Oakmere Homes (North West) Ltd

Lack of supply leads to approval in AONB

A proposal for an international headquarters building and 91 dwellings in Benson, South Oxfordshire was allowed. The Council was unable to demonstrate a five year supply of land for housing and the locational requirements of the international agricultural charity were such that it was likely to relocate elsewhere in the world if expansion was not allowed. Both of these reasons gave significant weight to over-ride the objection to major development within the AONB.

CABI and CALA Management Ltd

Impact on AONB not significant

A development of 29 dwellings on the edge of an AONB in Haslemere, Waverley, Surrey was allowed. The inspector believed the Council was optimistic rather than realistic in its assessment of housing land supply and that there was, potentially, a shortfall in housing supply. Although 14 of the dwellings were within the AONB this would not, concluded the inspector, meet the definition of “major development” and the impact would not be “significant”.

Appellant: Monkhill Ltd

Affordable housing provision not constrained by policy

A development for 148 dwellings in Kendall, South Lakeland was allowed to provide the 52 affordable housing units in two parts of the site. The Council had argued that the affordable housing should be dispersed around the site but such an approach was not backed by any adopted policy in the development plan.

Appellant:  Oakmere Homes (North West) Ltd

Employment land released

A development for 64 dwellings and a community hub in Frome, Mendip, Somerset was allowed. The site was an old factory but, despite the adopted neighbourhood plan identifying lack of employment opportunities in the town as one of the critical challenges the inspector concluded that there was no evidence that the site would ever be used for employment since it had been derelict for 20 years. The lack of affordable housing had been compensated for by the provision of other community facilities.

Appellant: Sustainable Britain Ltd

Aircraft noise unacceptable neighbours

An appeal for 130 dwellings in Benson, South Oxfordshire was dismissed despite the Council being unable to demonstrate a five year supply of land for housing. The site would extend the existing settlement towards an established RAF base and noise form the flights (many at night) would result in unacceptable amenity for future residents.

Appellant: Gladman Developments Ltd


Home Building Skills Pledge – have you signed?

Earlier this week, Chairman of our Home Building Skills Partnership and Group Chief Executive of Redrow PLC John Tutte, and HBF Executive Chairman Stewart Baseley, wrote to all HBF’s member Chief Executives urging them to sign up to our Home Building Skills Pledge* ahead of its official launch at the HBF’s Housing Market Intelligence conference on 5th October.

We’re pleased to report a very encouraging response so far at all levels of the industry, from large developers to the smaller companies. In the run up to HMI we want to get as many members signed up as possible and demonstrate the huge appetite within the industry for solving the home building skills gap.

Much has already been achieved in the first year of our Home Building Skills Partnership through its three activity groups in terms of mobilising our sector and setting the foundations for us to develop initiatives that will help do that. We now need to build on that momentum and send a clear message to government that our industry is serious about tackling the skills shortage.

*The Home Building Skills Pledge is based on 5 key actions, as follows:

“We are acutely aware of the skills shortage our industry is facing. We recognise the importance of future proofing workforce skills – via new entry routes as well as developing our existing talent - so that we can build quality homes where and when we need them.

We have a key role to play in this, and as such, pledge to collaborate with others in tackling the industry skills gap by supporting the Home Building Skills Partnership and working to its shared goals.

We will:

1. Collaborate and share
We will work with the industry to share best practice across attraction, recruitment and skills development;

2. Train to a standard
We are committed to ensuring that all of our workforce are trained and qualified to a recognised industry standard that equips them with the skills and experiences needed for their roles, meets our business needs and fosters a more positive working environment;

3. Engage and support

We will lead by example by committing to train all our recruits to the agreed Home Building Skills Partnership developed standards for their roles, and actively support our sub-contractors to do the same on an ongoing basis;

4. Champion diversity and inclusion
We are committed to recruiting a more diverse workforce to assist in improving the skills gap facing our industry, ensure breadth of thinking and that the sector is recognised for being inclusive and progressive;   

5. Promote careers
We are committed to promoting home building as a primary career choice with well understood career paths, exceptional training, qualifications and prospects, through the way we attract and actively develop our workforce.”

To sign up, or to get more information about the pledge please email

Developers and sub-contractors: Help fast track our future home builders!

There are still opportunities for you or your sub-contractors to get involved as employer on our Home Building Skills Partnership pilot project to fast track construction college graduates into the home building sector, starting with a 6-week bootcamp to enhance their skills and speed. All 5 of the pilot bootcamps have now taken place, but you and your supply chain can still get involved and give an aspiring home builder a job!

If you take them on, they’ll receive CITB funding to achieve NVQ for their CSCS blue skilled card.

Current opportunities are as follows:

Burton & South Derbyshire College 

Carpentry & Joinery

6 people still available for interview

Coleg Gwent in Newport


3 people still  available for interview

Barking & Dagenham

Dry lining             

2 people still available for interview

Please get in touch today by emailing if you’re interested in taking on any of the above, and spread the word among your sub-contractors.

Let’s get home builders winning #iBuiltThis2017!

This is a reminder that #iBuiltThis2017 is well underway and there’s still time to get your entries in. So get your thinking caps on and encourage your apprentices and new starters to enter - we want to see home building up there among the winners!

This new competition, run by Finishes and Interiors Sector (FIS), is an awareness raising campaign on social media encouraging people to use their creativity to build something new or showcase something they have already built and are proud to share. It’s aimed at getting people of all ages interested in, thinking about and celebrating the built environment, so we want see as many entries from the home building sector as possible. In doing so, you’ll be playing a vitally important part in helping inspire the next generation and change perceptions about construction in the process.

The concept is simple; entrants take a picture or selfie of themselves with the image of their completed project they built or helped to build using the hashtag #iBuiltThis2017. The hashtag must be included in the picture they submit to the FIS Skills social media platforms of Instagram and Twitter. They must use the hashtag #iBuiltThis2017 and insert their details in the comments section (name, site/location and project header in the comments section). They must follow and like the platform they submit to.

The competition runs from 4 – 24th September. Voting will then take place between 25th September and 1st October, and the best submissions and winners will be announced at the UK Construction Week exhibition between 10-12th October.

You can follow the competition by visiting/following @fisorg on twitter / Instagram. More information on how to enter here


HBF Planning Conference 2017

20 September 2017 

Austin Court, 80 Cambridge Street, Birmingham 



Are you tired of change? Tired of unexpected outcomes? Is Brexit, Trump, the General Election results, or even football, cricket or rugby scores creating uncertainty in your life?

Although there is, inevitably, change across all parts of the planning agenda it is good to know that the HBF annual planning conference remains a constant, strong and stable event in your calendar. With the same venue, the same Chairman and the value for money, the HBF Planning Conference is the most stable event since the original Christmas.

With a stellar line up of speakers, if your world is full of turmoil, you need to attend this conference in order to make sense of proposed policy and practice changes and challenges.

Vote for stability. Vote for the HBF Annual Planning Conference. 


Full details and the opportunity to book click here   

Please contact the events team with any questions on

HBF Technical Conference 2017

21 September 2017 

Austin Court, 80 Cambridge Street, Birmingham 


Building quicker – smarter.

Housing targets are rising year on year and the pressure is on the industry to deliver more homes while meeting higher expectations on quality. This pressure, allied with a skills shortage, means the use of modern methods of construction (MMC) and offsite systems could be increasingly important for your business.

But where do we start as an industry? What lessons have we already learnt? How will the utilities and infrastructure cope? What digital tools do we have to deliver these aspirations?

This year’s HBF Technical Conference will seek to answer these questions, taking an exciting look at the industry’s present day activities and what potentially lies ahead. Key leading industry experts will be providing their insight and will be on hand to answer your questions.


Full details and the opportunity to book click here     

Please contact the events team with any questions on 

Sponsored by SIG and Murphy Utility Connections  

HBF Utilities Conference 2017

The Home Builders Federation is again hosting a National Utility Conference to be held at the DW Stadium, Loire Drive, Robin Park, Wednesday 27th Sept 2017.

This will be a major utilities event with speakers from various sectors of the utility industry plus keynote speaker Steve Wielebski senior consultant to the HBF. Also there will be many stands to view during the various breaks.

The event is free to attend and lunch/parking is also provided free of charge. The agenda for the day and other information is available on our website.

This is a must see conference and delegate numbers are limited to a max of 135 and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

If you would like to attend please let Ian Wilkinson know as soon as possible email:

Housing Market Intelligence Conference and Annual Report

5 October 2017 

Milton Court, Barbican, London 


“In uncertain times, HMI provides the key information for housebuilders to plot the path ahead”

If ever there was a time when information, analysis and discussion of the strategic issues facing the housebuilding industry was needed, then this is it.

The 2017 Housing Market Intelligence conference in London on 5 October will bring together experts from all aspects of the industry to try to make sense of the economic and political outlook facing the new homes industry.

Housing Market Intelligence has become the key event for those seeking knowledge of the UK housebuilding industry, taking a strategic high level view of the important issues and helping delegates plot a path forward in uncertain times.

Housing Minister, Alok Sharma is confirmed to speak at HMI, alongside a key line up strong speakers including Lloyds Banking Group head of housing development Douglas Cochrane, HCA ceo Nick Walkley, Sunday Times economics editor David Smith and Knight Frank head of residential research Grainne Gilmore.  Members of the HBF management team will also be presenting an update on the industry and this year’s expert panel will discuss and debate the current challenges in housebuilding.  

The conference – first staged in 2003 – also sees the launch of the invaluable Housing Market Intelligence Report, packed full of key information, statistics and analysis.

For full details and to book click here

Sponsored by: Charles Russell Speechlys, COINS, H+H, HBF, ITW, NHBC, Lloyds Bank, Symphony, TriConnex, Whirlpool 

HBF Yorkshire Conference & Dinner 2017

19 October 2017

Cedar Court, Wakefield

The conference commences at 4pm and will be followed by a three-course dinner, providing delegates with the perfect opportunity to network with HBF members from across the Northern regions. 

A full agenda will be confirmed nearer the time but the conference will include presentations from the HBF executive team as well as from external speakers. 

Full details and to book click here. 

Or contact the events team with any questions on  

Housebuilder Awards 2017 - Finalists announced!

2 November 2017

The InterContinental London – The O2


The search for the best housebuilders in the UK is underway with the The Housebuilder Awards 2017.

Now in their 13th year, The Housebuilder Awards recognise innovation and excellence and have become the most coveted in the industry. They are backed by Housebuilder magazine, the Home Builders Federation and NHBC.

To view finalists click here

Tickets are now on general sale, to book a place click on the link to download the booking form

Or contact the events team with any questions on 

Sponsored by AEG, Birtley Group, British Gypsum, The Build Show, Donaldson Timber Engineering, Egger, GTC, H+H, HBF, Keystone, Marley Eternit, NHBC, Simcott Group, Tamdown, Tobermore, Travis Perkins, TriConnex,, United Trust Bank and Whirlpool

HBF Wales Conference and Dinner

16 November 2017  

The Angel Hotel, Cardiff

The conference commences at 4pm and will be followed by a three-course dinner, providing delegates with the perfect opportunity to network with HBF members from across Wales. 

A full agenda will be confirmed nearer the time but the conference will include presentations from the HBF executive team as well as from external speakers. 

For full details and to book please click here.  

Or contact the events team with any questions on  

HBF Ball 2017

1 December 2017 

London Hilton on Park Lane  

HBF is delighted to announce that the HBF Ball 2017 will once again take place at the prestigious 5-star London Hilton on Park Lane.

The event is a fantastic opportunity for people from across the industry to get together and let their hair down.

The event commences with a champagne reception at 7.30pm, followed by a three course meal and live entertainment and dancing until 2am.

Tables of 10 & 12 are available.

For full details and to book please click here

Please contact the events team with any questions on 

Sponsored by H+H and Ibstock