What is Middlesbrough doing to tackle the housing crisis for first time buyers?

It is getting harder and harder for young people to get on board the property ladder.

The annual autumn budget announced that first-time buyers of homes worth between £300,000 and £500,000 will not pay stamp duty on the first £300,000.

It also announced that over the next five years, £15.3 billion new financial support for house building will take place across the country, bringing the total up to £44 billion. This includes £1.2 billion for the government to buy land to build more homes, and £2.7 billion for infrastructure that will support housing.

Houses for sale in Teesside.

But is this of any real benefit to first time buyers? Will it help young people get onto the market in this financial crisis?

A mother from Middlesbrough, Sarah Orr, 24, who’s been saving for a house for 4 years with her boyfriend, said: “The budget has made no difference to us. Even with the government’s changes, we are a long way off being able to afford our own home”.

It seems that young people are definitely not optimistic that the new budget will help them to get onto the property ladder in any way.

Sarah Orr, 24, of Armadale close.

England consistently grants twice as many permissions as homes that are actually built, and because of this the government have said that it will reclaim any land that was not developed quickly enough.

Shares in British house builders tumbled just days after the government announced a number of measures in the annual budget to boost the housing market, including, a review of the gap between the number of planning permissions granted and the housing developments that begin.

According to the Valuation Office, the average price of agricultural land in England is £21,000 per hectare, while land with planning permission for housing is around £6m per hectare.

A Guardian investigation on “land banking” in 2015 revealed that the UK’s biggest house builders are sitting on 600,000 plots of land with planning permission.

Now in 2017, more than 475,000 new homes in England and Wales have planning permission but are yet to be built, despite the housing shortage which continues to trouble Britain.

Andy Glossop, Middlesbrough’s manager of development control service said: “This means that sites are more likely to move forward a bit quicker, however, any changes the government make around limiting the time that land can be stood empty, might implicate people getting planning permission in the first place”.

In Middlesbrough, the average price of post-permission residential land value estimates at £1,039,000 per hectare.

Middlesbrough’s population has gradually declined over the last fifty years, since peaking at about 160,000 in the 1960s the population has been steadily falling, as people are choosing to re-locate in new housing estates such as Ingleby Barwick, or in surrounding villages in North Yorkshire.

The housing stock in Middlesbrough is primarily low value. Recent market research shows a solid demand for more middle and upper market sector housing (semi-detached and detached housing) to attract and preserve economically active households in Middlesbrough.

However, Middlesbrough council look like they’re one step ahead in tackling the housing crisis in the local area, as Andy Glossop said: “Planning permission is easily granted, 98% of house planning applications get accepted. Every council has a five year deliverable housing supply – as a council we need to demonstrate that we have a certain number of house planning in the pipe line of the planning system for the next five years”.

“A local planner for the council allocates sites within the Borough for housing, and some of those sites will be for 20, 50 and even 500 houses. Our area has 7 years of plans for housing, which is beyond the government’s expectation”.

One key element that is essential in moving Middlesbrough forward in the housing community, is finding the right land to build on. This can be tricky with the money-making house builders wanting to sell their land for profit, rather than build affordable homes for first time buyers.

In Middlesbrough, housing companies argue that both brownfield and greenfield sites will be needed in the long term, but with the cost of protected areas going up, will it be possible to make inexpensive homes for people wanting to get on board the property ladder?

Land at High Farm, Skippers Lane, Middlesbrough.

Mr Glossop said: “Development on greenfield sites are actually the more protected areas and more valuable areas, and therefore houses would be of higher value, in which case it wouldn’t necessarily help people get on the property ladder at all.”

From different developers, to values of the site, commercial issues, and contaminated areas, there are a lot more factors to be taken into account when building on certain types of land.

In recent years, although the proportion of brownfield development has been high compared to national and regional averages, house building rates overall have been low. This is largely because of a shortfall of available greenfield sites in the area.

In 2016, the local authority committed to building 5,500 homes by 2020 – made up of high quality exclusive housing, ‘quality private rented’ accommodation, and affordable housing.

Middlesbrough’s housing core strategy and housing development plan states that their objective is to “stabilise population decline through the creation of sustainable communities that create an attractive environment to retain the population in the town. This will be achieved through a combination of providing housing in locations, and of the type, that people want, and through improvements to the local environment and investment in facilities and infrastructure”.

But will Middlesbrough Council be able to stick to their word and build these promised homes for young people wanting to branch out and invest.

With a lot of aspects taken into account, it’s hard to say where we will be by 2020, and if the housing crisis, in our local area especially, will indeed be better or worse.

Andy  Glossop has more to say on the subject…

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