Plans to lower new house prices by upto 30% for first time buyers

Housing prices are to be lowered by up to 30% in new plans set to be revealed by the government.

Tory ministers will unveil plans on Thursday to rip up planning regulations, while also lowering the prices of new homes for first-time buyers and key workers by up to 30%.

It hoped the new plans will provide a boost to Britain’s housing market in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has claimed this major overhaul of the planning system will speed up the housebuilding process and “cut red tape but not standards”.

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He said "now is the time for decisive action".

But campaigners are concerned the plans will harm the environment and see Tories ditch or water-down a requirement for big developers to contribute to infrastructure around big new developments, potentially piling pressure on cash strapped councils.

Mr Jenrick said the Conservatives’ latest reforms will protect green spaces while making it easier to build on “brownfield land”, reports The Mirror.

The White Paper proposes a planning system with three categories of land – earmarked for growth, renewal and protection – but campaigners last night said it risks creating a “disconnected landscape, one in which wildlife continues to decline because nature doesn't slot into neat little boxes”.

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Plans for the first time buyers discount, first revealed as part of the budget, are expected to feature in the White Paper.

The government claims this will save buyers tens of thousands of pounds when getting on the property ladder.

New 'First Homes' earmarked for a discount will stay at a low price for all future owners also from the same area too.

Key workers, such as nurses, police officers, firefighters, and teachers, as well as armed forces veterans, will be given priority in this scheme.

However, a pilot will involve only 1,500 First Homes and once the scheme is up and running, only 25% of affordable homes on a development – rather than 25% of all homes – will need to be First Homes.

Once the 30% discount is applied, there will be a price cap on First Homes of £250,000 across England and £420,000 in London.

Those buying First Homes will be subject to a household income cap of £80,000, or £90,000 in London.

They will mainly only be available to first-time buyers, but there will also be "a list of circumstances under which non-first-time buyers should be eligible", though that list has yet to be confirmed.

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First Homes will have to be marketed to people with "local connections" for the first three months after going on the market – but after that, the local restrictions will end and other people can buy them.

But once the original buyer sells up, they won't be able to make a fat profit, the government claims.

There will be a "restrictive covenant against the title of the property to ensure that relevant restrictions, including the original level of discount, are passed on to future purchasers."

A consultation on the plans is ongoing.

Mr Jenrick said it takes seven years to agree local housing plans and five years just to get a spade in the ground, and the proposed changes aim to speed up the process.

He added: "These once-in-a-generation reforms will lay the foundations for a brighter future, providing more homes for young people and creating better quality neighbourhoods and homes across the country.

"We will cut red tape, but not standards, placing a higher regard on quality, design and the environment than ever before.

"Planning decisions will be simple and transparent, with local democracy at the heart of the process.

"As we face the economic effects of the pandemic, now is the time for decisive action and a clear plan for jobs and growth. Our reforms will create thousands of jobs, lessen the dominance of big builders in the system, providing a major boost for small building companies across the country.”

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Matthew Fell, CBI chief UK policy director, said the reforms “will allow housebuilders to get to work”.

But environmental campaigners expressed concerns.

Tom Fyans, deputy chief executive of CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England), said: "The key acid test for the planning reforms is community involvement, and on first reading it’s still not clear how this will work under a zoning system."

Nikki Williams, director of campaigning and policy at The Wildlife Trusts, said policies to increase tree-lined streets are not enough.

She added: "Parks, green spaces and all the areas around our homes must be part of a wild network of nature-rich areas that will benefit bees and birds as much as it will enable people to connect with on-your-doorstep nature every single day.

"We live in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.

"Protecting isolated fragments of land is not enough to help wildlife recover nor will it put nature into people’s lives – something that is now recognised as vital for our health and wellbeing."

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