The government’s new starter home initiative has got under way, with the Conservatives making a commitment to deliver 200,000 homes under the initiative, double the number originally planned, if they triumph in the May general election. More than 40 housebuilders have signed up to deliver discounted homes for first time buyers in return for freedom from planning controls under the starter home initiative. First time buyers under the age of 40 in England can register at www.starter-home.co.uk to buy the new homes, which are being offered at a 20% discount.
The government originally committed to delivering 100,000 homes, but in a pre-election bid to win votes, the Conservatives have said they will double this pledge if they form the next government. Housing has become one of the key battlegrounds of the May election.
But the homes come at the expense of provision of housing for those in greatest need and at the delivery of more sustainable homes. Housebuilders developing commercial and industrial land that is either unusable or surplus for the new starter homes are being freed from Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 payments. This means housebuilders will have exemption from the zero carbon standard and from the requirement to provide affordable housing – which could cost an average of £15,000 per home – alongside private homes, in return for offering the 20% discount. The homes will have to remain available at 20% below market value for the first five years.
The exemption from the zero carbon standard prompted criticism from UK Green Building Council director of policy and communications and acting chief executive John Alker. He said: “There would be a sad irony if these starter homes locked 200,000 first time buyers into a legacy of higher energy bills and poorer quality housing for years to come.”
The government’s design panel, which includes architects Sir Terry Farrell and Sir Quinlan Terry, have highlighted a range of exemplar new build housing styles for developers to emulate for the starter homes. The panel said exemplar styles have the following characteristics:
- They are well proportioned
- They fit in with existing local housing styles
- They have good parking and community spaces.
Sir Terry Farrell, founding partner at Farrells, said: “The templates developed by the government’s housing design panel will raise the design standard of new build homes as well as raise the expectations of those who buy and live in them”.
Housebuilders that have pledged their support to the scheme are:
- Linden/Galliford Try
- Taylor Wimpey
- Capital and Centric
- Mount Anvil
- Development Securities.
A further 15 smaller builders and members of the Federation of Master Builders have pledged their support and will build around 450 homes a year. They are:
- Affleck Property Services
- Badger Building (E Anglia)
- Border Craft Homes
- Carr & Carr (Builders)
- Farnham Bros (Youldon & Barrett)
- Humber Construction Brick Baron
- John Collis Group
- Keigar Homes
- N London Construction
- REB South West
- Swale Valley Construction
- Swallow Hill Homes
- Swan Homes (East Midlands)
- Tilbury Projects.