28 March 2017 - 1 Wimpole Street, London
It was a day of challenges, solutions, pleas, analysis and “a strong message” from government to the housebuilding industry.
The HBF Policy conference 2017, chaired by Sunday Times property correspondent Martina Lees, had something for everyone – politics, economics, market analysis, skills updates, planning and even humour.
Communities secretary Sajid Javid used his speech not only to outline the policies coming through the recent Housing White Paper, but to set down challenges to the industry on design, quality and fair sales terms. He surprised the audience by telling them he intended to ensure that Help to Buy equity loans would only be available on homes being sold with acceptable and fair terms, a reference to recent concerns about new homes being sold as leasehold rather than freehold and attracting ongoing fees and charges.
Help to Buy was high on the conference agenda, with Barratt ceo David Thomas calling for an extension beyond 2021 to be “an absolute priority” for government. Javid said he hoped there would be news on this “quite soon”.
Shadow housing secretary John Healey told the conference he was less keen on Help to Buy, calling it a blank cheque for housebuilders and saying it should be more targeted at those it is meant to help – first time buyers on ordinary incomes.
James Lidgate of Legal & General Capital reported on the pension and insurance company’s increasing interest in housing including progress on its modular homes factory near Leeds, while Mark Aedy of Moelis & Co looked at the sector in terms of the City and found seven reasons to be cheerful.
HBF executive chairman Stewart Baseley provided an update on some of the key issues the federation is tackling at present while HBF planning director Andrew Whitaker added a sprinkling of humour with his ever entertaining take on all we need to know about what is happening in the planning world.
With market analysis from HBF policy director David O’Leary and Savills’ Lucian Cook and an analysis of the progress the industry is making to tackle the skills challenge from Home Building Skills Partnership director Jenny Herdman and Francesca Stott of Story Homes, there was plenty for the 250 plus delegates to absorb.
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