Countrywide welcomes the Government's housing and planning package


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Welcoming today's announcement by the Government to introduce a housing and planning package, Grenville Turner, Chief Executive of Countrywide, the UK's largest estate agency and property services group said:

"Today's announcement by the Government to boost house building, jobs and the economy, is a positive signal of its intentions to bring housing to the forefront of the political and economical agenda. 

"We are pleased to see the Government is supporting the construction sector by injecting £10billion into the building of 70,000 new homes and creating 140,000 new jobs. Planning is the cornerstone of the housing market's recovery, so improving the planning approval process by allowing developers to bypass councils, and allow more applications go through a fast track appeal process, are steps in the right direction.

"It is also encouraging to see a £280million extension of the Government's FirstBuy initiative, which will help more first-time buyers get a foot on the housing ladder.  However, it would have been good to see the Government take further measures to help second-time buyers and home movers by abolishing Stamp Duty for all properties worth £250,000 and under.

"As the UK's largest lettings network, we have seen rental demand increase significantly, leading to a serious shortage of rental properties available to let. The Government's plan to build an additional 5,000 homes for rent at market rates is welcome news but more could be done through financial incentives to encourage investment in the buy-to-let sector and assist leaseholders stay in their home when their lease comes to an end.  

"Whilst the Government has introduced some measures to increase activity in the housing market, they must have a clear strategy to achieve a balance of demand and supply through tax relief and incentives with the aim being to reduce volatility in the house market.

"One of the critical factors hindering the UK housing market is financing and deposit affordability.  The Government should do more to encourage all lenders, not just state-backed lenders, to set minimum and meaningful mortgage lending targets."


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