The Government’s new Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell, has confirmed that he remains committed to building one million new homes.
Barwell, who was appointed last week, has also made it clear that unless there are very special circumstances, these homes will not be built on the greenbelt.
He said: “The Government is committed to the strong protection and enhancement of greenbelt land. Within the greenbelt, most new building is inappropriate and should be refused planning permission, except in very special circumstances.”
Housing Minister Remains Committed to Building 1m New Homes
Answering a question in Parliament, Barwell also highlighted the importance of homeownership.
He insisted that the Government is committed to a “mixed programme” of different housing tenures, but that 86% of people aspire to own their own home.
The new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, also emphasised his commitment to protecting the greenbelt, describing it as “absolutely sacrosanct”.
Meanwhile, the Managing Directors of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), David Cox and Mark Hayward, welcomed Barwell to his new role.
In a joint statement, they said: “We would like to congratulate Gavin on his new appointment and welcome him to his new role.
“This is a crucial time for housing, with demand greatly outstripping supply and an urgent need to reshape Britain’s housing mix.
“We worked closely with the previous administration to increase transparency in the UK property sector, and remain very supportive of the need for a beneficial ownership register.
“Property transparency is particularly a problem in London, where housing stock has increasingly become a vehicle for money laundering operations, so we applaud the decision to provide the minister with a dual oversight for London.”
However, they added: “Despite this, Gavin will have a lot in his in-tray and a number of key concerns still exist in the sector.
“The Government’s decision to sell the Land Registry risks reversing its good work on transparency, and we call on the new minister to work with the new Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department to think again on this proposal.
“Secondly, it is also essential that Gavin honours the commitment of his predecessor to bring forward a review of the need for mandatory Client Money Protection (CMP) for letting agents, following the discretionary powers that were brought in as part of the Housing and Planning Act.
“Only this can provide the adequate level of protection for landlords and tenants alike.”
The statement concluded: “These challenges are not insurmountable, and we greatly look forward to working with the new minister to find a solution to these issues in the months and years ahead.”