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Discretion demanded over starter homes

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Councils should be given discretion over the number of starter homes built on sites as part of a £1.2bn government programme, according to the Local Government Association.

Thirty local authority partnerships (see box below) are set to receive a share of the £1.2bn Starter Homes Land Fund to support the acquisition of suitable sites as well as carrying out works to help make the construction of starter homes viable.

The starter homes will be built exclusively for first-time buyers aged between 23 and 40 at a discount of at least 20% below market value. Discounted prices will be capped at £450,000 in London and £250,000 elsewhere. None of the partnerships announced today are in the capital.

Martin Tett

Martin Tett

A Department for Communities & Local Government spokesman told LGC the £1.2bn fund is expected to aid the construction of up to 30,000 starter homes. A prospectus published by the government when the fund was launched in March last year said the ambition was to build 200,000 starter homes by 2020.

The prospectus also said the “expectation is that starter homes would account for at least 50% of the homes built” on each site with the remainder being built for sale at full market value to help with viability.

However there was no mention in the DCLG’s announcement today about whether that was still a requirement. The spokesman told LGC the aim was for 50% of the properties built nationally to be starter homes. 

Martin Tett (Con), the LGA’s housing spokesman, said councils supported measures to boost home ownership, which included starter homes, but added: “Ultimately, local areas will need discretion on the number of starter homes required in new developments.

“This will allow councils to ensure a mix of homes – to rent and buy – are built which are affordable for those people that need them and that are crucial for enabling people to save money towards a deposit.”

Meanwhile, 14 garden villages and three garden towns have received government backing. The DCLG has set aside £6m over the next two financial years to support the delivery of these new projects which it said will be “distinct new places with their own community facilities, rather than extensions to existing urban areas”.

The garden villages of between 1,500 and 10,000 homes have the potential to deliver more than 48,000 homes across England, the DCLG said.

The 14 sites are: Long Marston in Stratford-on-Avon; Oxfordshire Cotswold in West Oxfordshire; Deenethorpe in East Northants; Culm in Mid Devon; Welborne near Fareham in Hampshire; West Carclaze in Cornwall; Dunton Hills near Brentwood, Essex; Spitalgate Heath in South Kesteven, Lincolnshire; Halsnead in Knowsley, Merseyside; Longcross in Runnymede and Surrey Heath; Bailrigg in Lancaster; Infinity Garden Village in South Derbyshire and Derby City area; St Cuthberts near Carlisle City, Cumbria; and North Cheshire in Cheshire East. 

The government also announced £1.4m funding will go towards supporting proposals for three new garden towns in Aylesbury, Taunton, and Harlow & Gilston.

The 30 Starter Home Land Fund partnerships are:

  • Blackburn with Darwen BC
  • Blackpool BC
  • Bristol City Council
  • Central Bedfordshire Council
  • Cheshire West and Chester Council
  • Chesterfield BC
  • Chichester DC
  • Lincoln City Council
  • Ebbsfleet Development Corporation
  • Fareham BC
  • Gloucester City Council
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • Lincolnshire CC
  • Liverpool City Council (in association with Sefton, Knowsley, Halton, Wirral, St Helens MBCs)
  • Luton BC
  • Mid Sussex DC
  • Middlesbrough Council
  • North Somerset Council
  • Northumberland CC
  • Pendle BC
  • Plymouth City Council
  • Rotherham MBC
  • Rushmoor BC
  • Sheffield City Council
  • South Kestevan DC
  • South Ribble BC (in association with Preston City Council and Lancashire CC)
  • South Somerset DC
  • Stoke-on-Trent City Council
  • West Somerset DC (in association with Taunton Deane BC and Sedgemoor DC)
  • Worthing BC
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