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New homes crisis: Government wants more houseboats

Housing minister Grant Shapps has revealed proposals to increase the number of planning permissions for houseboats

Shapps wants new residential moorings to qualify for the Government’s New Homes Bonus (NHB), allowing councils to boost housing supply in their areas.

The income that local authorities receive from the NHB - which sees the Government match council tax from new-build homes - could be invested in new marina facilities or waterside recreational activities that everyone could benefit from.

According to the Residential Boat Owners Association, around 15,000 people live on Britain’s waterways and Shapps believes that the proposals are an example of how ‘unconventional housing’ can allow people to live in areas where they couldn’t normally afford.

Shapps said: ‘While they will never overtake bricks and mortar in putting a roof over the heads of families, innovative new ways of housing families - such as residential moorings - play an important role in allowing people to live near to their place of work, children’s school, or family, and where perhaps they would not be able to afford to otherwise.

‘Around 15,000 people live on our waterways and many more would like to do so. The Government’s commitment to Localism could be an opportunity for living on boats to be given a new lease of life. Where houseboats pay council tax, communities will be eligible for the New Homes Bonus, so the potential economic benefits are huge.

‘Landlords, councils and communities all have a clear incentive to get more mooring sites in their areas and not become landlocked in their quest to meet local housing needs.’

David West of Studio Egret west said: ‘The challenge with floating homes has, to date, revolved around getting a mortgage without a fixed address and within a depreciating asset.

‘If these hurdles can be overcome with government support then there are great opportunities.’

He added: ‘A good example of underutilised water is London’s Royal Docks where our London’s Floating Village project will play a crucial role in animating the waterspace.’

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