Connaught Barracks - Aerial for MIPIM

PM announces government to directly commission new homes in Dover

  • Ground-breaking new policy will see the government fast-track building of affordable homes on publicly owned land
  • Direct commissioning approach has not been used on this scale since Thatcher and Heseltine started the Docklands regeneration
  • Additional £1.2bn fund to build 30,000 affordable ‘starter homes’ on underused brownfield land in the next 5 years also announced

The Prime Minister will today announce that the government is to step in and directly commission thousands of new affordable homes.

In a radical new policy shift, not used on this scale since Thatcher and Heseltine started the Docklands, the government will directly commission the building of homes on publicly owned land. This will lead to quality homes built at a faster rate with smaller building firms – currently unable to take on big projects – able to get building on government sites where planning permission is already in place. The first wave of up to 13,000 will start on 4 sites outside of London in 2016 – up to 40% of which will be affordable ‘starter’ homes. This approach will also be used in at the Old Oak Common site in north west London.

The government is also today announcing a £1.2bn starter home fund to prepare brownfield sites for new homes. This will fast-track the creation of at least 30,000 new starter homes and up to 30,000 market homes on 500 new sites by 2020 – helping deliver the commitment to create 200,000 starter homes over the next 5 years.

The new investment will help kick-start regeneration and secure planning permission in urban areas – renovating disused or under-occupied urban sites so builders can get to work without any delays.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “This government was elected to deliver security and opportunity - whatever stage of life you’re at. Nothing is more important to achieving that than ensuring hard-working people can buy affordable homes.

“Today’s package signals a huge shift in government policy. Nothing like this has been done on this scale in 3 decades – government rolling its sleeves up and directly getting homes built.

“Backed up with a further £1.2 billion to get homes built on brownfield sites, it shows we will do everything we can to get Britain building and let more people have the security that comes with a home of their own.”

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: “We’re pulling out all the stops to keep the country building with a clear ambition to deliver a million homes by 2020 and support hard-working people into home ownership.

“Today’s radical new approach will mean the government will directly commission small and up-and-coming companies to build thousands of new homes on sites right across the country.

“This, and the £1.2billion new starter homes fund, will help thousands of people to realise their dream of owning their own home.”

 Currently the top 8 house builders provide 50% of new homes. The direct commissioning approach will support smaller builders and new entrants who are ready to build but lack the resources and access to land.

The pilot for direct commissioning on publicly owned land will start in 5 sites, including Connaught Barracks in Dover.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: “When it comes to building new homes, the availability of small sites is the single biggest barrier to SME house builders increasing their output.

“Any measures that the government can introduce that will increase the number of small sites suitable for SME house builders will help address the housing shortfall.

“It is also encouraging that the majority of these sites will already have planning permission in place as obtaining permission is all-too-often a lengthy and protracted process – avoiding this time delay should help house builders increase their supply much more quickly.”

 Jeremy Blackburn, Head of Policy at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said: “This government has already introduced a great many initiatives that we believe will slow current high rates of house-price growth. Today’s announcements will further help to bring much-needed new developments swiftly to market.”

Connaught Barracks (Dover)

Connaught Barracks is a former MOD site of 55 hectares acquired by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) in 2008. At its core is a Napoleonic fort now owned by the Land Trust. The site is allocated for up to 500 housing units. It is considered challenging by private developers due to complex demolition and utility upgrade works that are required prior to development. As a result work on the site is currently stalled and incurs significant holding costs. Direct commissioning will enable this site to be brought forward, reducing the costs to the public purse and bringing forward additional housing that the market alone would not deliver.

Press release issued by the Prime Minister's Office 

Posted on 05/01/2016