LONDON, March 4 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May will on Monday call for homebuilders to “do their duty” and build new houses more quickly to meet demand, launching a draft policy on planning laws designed to ease the country’s housing shortage.
May has made tackling a long-term housing shortage one of her top priorities as she looks to show voters that her government is capable of delivering domestic reforms at the same time as negotiating the country’s exit from the European Union.
Successive British governments have failed to meet homebuilding targets, contributing to a steep rise in prices that has left many young Britons unable to afford a property and driven up rental prices.
May will take aim at property developers during a speech in London on Monday, saying their bonus structures incentivise high profit over the construction of affordable homes, and warning that failure to build on approved sites could affect future decisions to award new planning permission.
“I expect developers to do their duty to Britain and build the homes our country needs,” May will say, according to extracts of her speech released in advance.
“I want to see planning permissions going to people who are actually going to build houses, not just sit on land and watch its value rise.”
Britain’s largest homebuilders, including Barratt, Persimmon, and Taylor-Wimpey, have reported bright starts to 2018 in recent weeks.
But May wants 300,000 homes to be built per year — well above the 2017 level of around 217,000.
The planning reform will also look at ways local authorities can fast-track developments without eating into protected green spaces, and give nurses, teachers, and other key workers priority access to affordable housing.
The plans will be subject to an eight week consultation, with the final version due to be published in the summer (Reporting by William James Editing by Catherine Evans)