Starter Homes

In 2015 David Cameron pledged that 200,000 Starter Homes would be delivered at a 20% discount – however the government failed to bring forward the planning guidance needed to bring this pledge to fruition and not one Starter Home was delivered!  Roll forward to 2019 and the latest Conservative Party manifesto includes a commitment to offer more homes to local families, discounted in perpetuity by a third for local people who cannot otherwise buy in their area (the aspiration also being that councils could use this approach to prioritise key workers in their area).  Unlike Starter Homes though, last week the government published a consultation on its policy proposals for its First Homes scheme.  Taking a slightly different approach, the First Homes initiative would provide a minimum 30% discount on homes for local people to be held in perpetuity (meaning the reduction is retained if the purchaser decides to sell).  The consultation considers two approaches to delivery – to either create a new stipulated requirement for developers to deliver First Homes alongside market housing (through changes to policy or legislation) or to amend the existing entry level exception site policy to a First Homes exception site policy.   The first approach will seek to prescribe that either a percentage of affordable homes are delivered as First Homes or to prescribe that a percentage of all units on sites (over 10 units) are to be sold as First Homes (note the Starter Homes initiative had previously suggested a 20% requirement on a similar basis).  Key questions to consider will be the impact of a mandatory percentage, the bearing it could have on the delivery of other forms of affordable housing which may better meet local needs (albeit that the government is suggesting that First Homes will be CIL exempt) and the criteria local authorities will use to define who is exactly is 'local'?