Gove calls for competition probe into house building

Aaron Morby 1 year ago
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Levelling-up and housing secretary Michael Gove is turning up the heat on developers after urging the Competition and Markets Authority to conduct a review of house building.

Michael Gove rows back on target to build 300,000 homes every year
Michael Gove rows back on target to build 300,000 homes every year

The move comes as Gove today reveals new measures to “strengthen” his Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

Housing targets remain, but the old 300,000 homes a year target will now be advisory for councils considering planning rather than mandatory, a major climbdown after threats of a Tory MP rebellion over the issue.

New penalties are proposed for slow developers failing to build already-approved homes.

Local authorities will get more power to promote brownfield development. Green Belt protections will be strengthened, with new guidance setting out that local authorities are not required to review Green Belt to deliver homes.

Gove also today reveals he has asked for a CMA market study on the house building market.

In his letter to the competition and markets watchdog, he writes: “It is critical that we have a house building sector that operates effectively to deliver the homes that people need. Housing plays a key role in achieving our Levelling Up ambitions.

“Buying a home is one of the most important decisions a family takes, with huge financial implications, so making sure this market is working in the interests of consumers is of the highest importance.

“The last house building market study took place 14 years ago and since then, there have been significant changes in both the market and the challenges facing the country as a whole – such as net zero, changes to the structure of the market following the financial crisis and changing demographic trends.”

He adds: “Reflecting on the above, and in the context of increasing economic pressures, which are impacting on individual citizens and businesses alike, it feels timely that the CMA should be considering a market study.

“In the event such a study progressed, the Government would welcome recommendations for measures we, industry and the regulators could take to make sure the housing market is operating effectively.”

As an independent organisation, the CMA must decide whether to take up the request and said it would formally respond in January.

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