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Queen’s speech: Government commits to housing White Paper plans

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The government announced in Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech that it will press ahead with turning its housing White Paper into law

The discussion document released in February caused controversy due to its proposal to review a recently introduced national space standard for new housing.

With the Conservative Party losing its overall majority in this month’s General Election, it is unclear how much the White Paper will be altered as it makes its way through Parliament.

The note said: ‘We will deliver the reforms proposed in the White Paper to increase transparency around the control of land, to free up more land for new homes in the right places, speed up build-out by encouraging modern methods of construction and diversify who builds homes in the country.’

It said that the forthcoming Housing Bill would help to tackle the increasing lack of affordability by bringing more properties onto the market.

In addition, it will ‘slow the rise in housing costs relative to the rise in wages, and help ordinary working people gain better access to this most basic of necessities’.

In addition, the government promised that the measures included will help bring the cost of renting down.

RIBA President Jane Duncan said: ‘We are pleased to see the Government’s commitment to fairness and transparency in the housing market and to implementing the housing White Paper.

But she warned: ‘We urgently need more homes but it is vital they are of a high quality. High standards must not be sacrificed in the panic to meet necessary, but demanding, housing targets.’

High standards must not be sacrificed in the panic to meet housing targets

Mark Farmer, co-founder and chief executive of real estate and construction consultancy Cast, welcomed the decision to bring forward a housing Bill, ‘especially with regard to the elements focused on the modernisation and diversification of housing supply and skills development. This will need to be a priority if the Immigration Bill leads to a reduction in longer-term construction capacity.’

The Queen’s speech also introduced no fewer than eight bills to implement Brexit, covering aspects of law and civil life which were previously governed by EU legislation.

However Duncan said the RIBA was ‘very disappointed’ there was ‘still no further clarity for our non UK EU national architect colleagues, who make such a fantastic contribution to the UK economy and to the quality of the built environment in the UK and across the world’.

John Assael, chairman of Assael Architecture, also voiced his concerns about the Brexit strategy, saying said that ‘the end of free movement from the EU is worrying, as it could starve Britain’s architectural field of the young talent needed to design and build the homes that the UK so desperately needs, and the construction workers to build them.’

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, the government pledged to ‘assess the position’ on building regulations, while ‘recognising the need to take account of public inquiry interim findings and conclusions’.

The speech also announced the setting-up of an independent public advocate to help bereaved families after major disasters.

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