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Minister hints at build-to-rent package in white paper

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The housing minister has reiterated the government’s commitment to the build-to-rent sector, assuring firms it will be addressed in the upcoming housing white paper

Gavin Barwell said the government was keen to attract institutional investment into the housing market, including build-to-rent, and a ’package for build-to-rent’ would be included in the white paper.

He said: ’Both the secretary of state and I have made it really clear that we keen to attract institutional investment into the housing market in this country and you can rest assured that there will be things about that in the white paper.’

He was seeking to quell industry concerns that the chancellor did not reduce the stamp duty surcharge on commercial property – widely viewed as a deterrent for institutional investors looking to enter the housing market – in the Autumn Statement.

Barwell said: ’The chancellor referred specifically to the fact we’re having white paper so clearly he wasn’t going to make all the announcements, otherwise there wouldn’t be point in having a white paper.’

He added: ’In terms of the package for build-to-rent, [developers] can absolutely be sure that there will be things we want to talk about in the white paper.’

The housing white paper is expected to be published this year, although the minister was unable to confirm it would be released before 2017.

’It is coming [but] I want to get the detail right. The thing to do is to publish it once we’ve got everything spot on – we shouldn’t be concerned about an artificial timescale.’

The minister also confirmed that further details on fast-tracked planning services will be addressed in the white paper.

He said the government was keen to speed up the planning process and had consulted on the possibility of fast-tracked services.

’I’ve had feedback from lots of people that they would be interested in paying a premium fee and get a premium service.’

The minister was speaking after giving the go-ahead to Birmingham council for a 15-year development strategy to deliver 51,000 homes – 6,000 of which would be on green belt land.

The housing minister yesterday lifted a holding direction that had prevented the Birmingham Development Plan from progressing pending further investigation into the proposals.

Asked whether the decision signalled a wider shift in policy by the government away from developing on brownfield land first, Barwell said it did not.

’[The government] is not changing its green belt policy at all – the NPPF is very clear that green belt boundaries can be amended as part of local plan making processes in exceptional circumstances, and what the inspector said in this case was that, having looked at it in great detail, Birmingham has taken a robust approach and that the exceptional circumstance test had been passed.’

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