Kate Tait, Group Strategic Land & Planning Director at affordable homebuilder Keon Homes, wanted the Chancellor to go further and faster in his Autumn Statement.
“Having taken time to digest the Autumn Statement, I can’t help but feel it was focused too much on a lot of ‘tinkering’ around the edges with minor tax adjustments.
This is not going to make a significant difference and what we really need is a Government who will back up these general investment statements by supporting real drivers for long-term stable growth.
As a fast-growing provider of affordable housing and extra care schemes, we see first-hand the housing crisis that the UK is suffering from and I was amazed not to see it properly addressed in the Chancellor’s words and, even more bemused, at the lack of any incentives for first-time buyers.
A lot of the planning reforms had already been announced and, whilst we would welcome any measures that ensure quicker and streamlined planning applications, I’d question whether any of the local authorities actually have the resources to deliver what the Government wants.
The new schemes that were announced would only create 4200 new homes, a drop in the ocean when there is a requirement for 300,000 additional houses per year and an overall shortfall of 4million homes in England.
This means the emphasis will fall on firms like Keon and our parent company Tara Group to be bold and brave in our strategy, ignoring the difficult market conditions to continue to invest in unlocking complex sites and delivering affordable homes.
We have more than tripled in size in the last twelve months and have 600+ plots either in build or about to start on site, not to mention building two landmark extra care schemes in the West Midlands.
Recruitment is key to enabling this growth and we welcome the £50m investment in apprentices, so crucial to developing the new talent the construction sector needs.
Time will tell, but I feel that Mr Hunt has missed the opportunity to force his colleagues in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to free up the planning system, which is simply paralysed by politically motivated blocking. This would have given private and public housing bodies – across all parts of the UK – the confidence and certainty we need to invest.“