Improved recognition of build-to-rent in the UK’s planning system could help boost housebuilding, according to a report by the British Property Federation and Savills.
The ‘Unlocking benefits and potential of Build-to-Rent’ report, produced with the London School of Economics, sets out the need for “greater codification” of the UK government’s preferred planning approach to the sector in its Housing White Paper, published today.
The paper, said BPF chief executive, Melanie Leech is “necessarily ambitious and all-encompassing”.
Measures aimed at stimulating the Build-to-Rent sector are included in the plan, which Leech said is a “tremendous vote of confidence in the sector”.
“They will help it add to supply, deliver better quality homes for renters, provide innovation in construction and reinforce partnership working with local councils.”
The paper’s reforms to planning, planning fees and the community infrastructure levy are not, she said, “what will grab the headlines”, but are “absolutely vital to the cause of building more homes”.
“It is going to be a long hard slog to reverse 20 years of housing undersupply, but this is a good start, which sets us off on the right footing. It recognises that we need a housing sector that is firing on all cylinders and provides support to all parts of it.
“What will fuel housing expansion most is land with planning and infrastructure.”
The BPF said recognising build-to-rent’s ability to increase the supply of homes will play an important role in the paper’s success.
Ian Fletcher, BPF director of policy, said: “Build-to-rent is a relatively new phenomenon in the UK, but already has a significant development pipeline, which will see it deliver thousands of homes over this parliament.
“By measuring build-to-rent’s growth and the other benefits it delivers, and what gets in its way, we want to show to government the sector can be an important partner to its ambitions to build more homes, on this most important of days for housing policy.”
At large urban sites connected to employment markets, the BPF said build-to-rent can accelerate housebuilding three-fold.
On one-fifth of large development residential sites, additional delivery of 6% could be achieved, the study found.
With 164,000 homes completed in England in 2015-16, such a strategy would add 10,000 homes per year.
With the level of supply expected to be completed over the next three years, this would equate to around 15,000 build-to-rent homes being built each year.
This, the study found, would result in 240,000 homes being built by 2030.
The BPF said a statutory planning definition of build-to-rent would be welcomed by the sector.