Build to Rent – Government announces consultation responses on planning and affordable housing and its next steps

Build to Rent gaining momentum

The Government has published the responses from its consultation on Planning & Affordable Housing for Build to Rent that took place between 7 February and 2 May 2017. This was  in response to the emergence of a new sector in the housing market – large scale developments, purpose built for private rent – commonly known as “build to rent” or “PRS”

Industry estimates indicate there could be around £50 to £70 billion of new institutional investment available to enter this sector, potentially generating up to 15,000 new homes per annum.

The recent Housing White Paper set out the Government’s support for build to rent as a means to improve housing supply, but importantly also as a way to improve choice, quality, security and diversity in the private rented sector.

Overall there were 221 responses to the consultation, from a wide range of different sectors and parts of the country.

Despite recent increases in the numbers of build to rent homes being constructed, all parties to the process, from developers and investors through to local authorities and campaign groups, considered there is a need to consolidate planning policy.

The consultation responses indicated there was a general consensus view in support of many of the key proposals which were discussed in the consultation. In particular, the consultation indicated a majority view that there is a market failure in the build to rent sector which could merit policy intervention. There was also clear support for a national approach on build to rent to be set out and consolidated in planning policy.

The responses also indicated clear support for the introduction of an “affordable private rent” concept, and for this to be part of an affordable housing definition specifically tied to build to rent schemes. Responses also indicated, however, a level of concern that there could be unintended consequences if affordable private rent is accepted as a form of affordable housing for non-build to rent schemes. Other areas where overall support was evident included the offering of minimum tenancy lengths for build to rent schemes.

The Government will now consider how to take forward the policy area in the light of these results. Where any points of uncertainty have emerged, the Government plans to probe the issues over the coming months. The aim will be to use the results of this process to input into future proposals for revising the National Planning Policy Framework (and associated Guidance).

The full paper can be read here