In any sane universe, something called the Housing and Planning Bill might safely be assumed to stimulate house building and improve planning. But the bill, which receives its third and final reading in the House of Commons today, does exactly the opposite of what it says on the tin. It will exacerbate the housing crisis and further enfeeble the planning system in ways we cannot yet comprehend.
The primary assault on social housing has been much discussed in these pages. The bill’s flagship measure – promoted at ownyourhome.gov.uk – will replace genuinely affordable homes with public subsidies for property investors. Rather than building homes for affordable rent, the legislation will force local authorities to build “Starter Homes” for first-time buyers. Capped at £450,000 in London and £250,000 in the rest of England, these homes will be unaffordable for people on average incomes in over half of the country, as Shelter has pointed out. Buyers will be free to sell their assets after five years at full market value, thereby minting a new generation of property speculators and removing any long-term benefit for future first-time buyers.