Leading land agents Aston Mead have responded positively to this week’s government’s White Paper on housing – the biggest shake-up of housing policy in two generations.
In particular, the company approves of the requirement for councils to set aside land for thousands of homes, under new Government targets to allow large scale construction to take place.
Aston Mead Land & Planning Director Charles Hesse said: “For years we have been calling for a ‘standardised’ way of calculating the number of homes each local authority needs to build, to prevent councils ‘fudging’ figures on housing demand, in order to limit development. At last the Government has seen sense, and provided a system which should provide a framework to get Britain building again.”
Aston Mead has also praised plans to relax planning restrictions near high streets, as well as an emphasis on the building of ‘mansion blocks’ and four-storey terrace houses instead of blocks of flats. Charles Hesse explained: “Our high streets are in desperate need of revitalisation, and this is certainly one way to go about achieving this goal. It’s also good to see a move away from the high-rise blocks of 50 years ago, and a return to the construction of homes that all of us would be happy to live in.”
However, Aston Mead was more critical about the Government’s retaining of restrictions on the green belt, which allows councils to build only ‘in exceptional circumstances’. Charles Hesse added: “Time and time again we have been making the case for a reclassification of green belt land, to allow some of it to be freed-up for development. It’s patently obvious that whilst some of it is so precious that it should be retained as all costs, much of it – particularly the land around railways stations and motorway junctions – is not really ‘green’ at all.
“Construction here would create thousands of new homes, all with easy access to excellent transport links, on land which most people would genuinely not miss, and which most of them did not realise was official green belt anyway. So we call yet again for the Government to recognise just how valuable freeing up some of this land might be.”
“All in all, we have to accept that building 150,000 new homes each year is no longer good enough. Instead, we should be aiming at a figure which is at least double that number. And this White Paper goes some way in providing the basis to make those ideas a reality.”