Housebuilding construction

Boris Johnson reveals his strategy for the UK housing market

Ex-prime minister Theresa May made it “her mission” to build more homes, but with indications that the targets are not being met, new PM Boris Johnson is changing tack.

The new prime minister, who was voted in last month to lead the Conservatives after Theresa May’s resignation, has made it clear that enabling more people to own their own homes is a key concern for the government.

In a recent interview, Johnson revealed that building on brownfield sites across the country will be one way that the government will aim to achieve its housebuilding targets – which still includes creating 300,000 new homes each year until the mid-2020s.

He hopes that by doing so, he will help many more young people get onto the housing ladder, either through shared ownership or owning a home outright.

“I think young people need the prospect of homeownership,” Johnson said. “A stake in society, the ability to own at least a share of their home.

“We are going to bring forward plans to build on brownfield sites starter homes for young people that will give them the real prospect of owning a share of their home at least, if not the whole thing.”

What are brownfield sites?

Brownfield sites are areas that have previously been developed on, often for industrial or commercial use although it could also include previous residential or office space, with the potential for being redeveloped. Many of the UK’s brownfield sites are unused, arguably wasted space.

Benefits to building on brownfield sites, along with the creation of more homes, include improving the area for local people through regeneration, being generally quicker to build on than greenfield sites, and also helping to save green spaces where houses would otherwise be built.

Places for young people

Johnson’s comments indicate that the housebuilding strategy might include a provision for keeping aside properties specifically for young people and first-time buyers, creating “starter homes” to assist people who are trying to buy.

In the UK, the age at which people get onto the housing ladder is continuing to rise, which is influenced by a variety of factors including high house prices and changing attitudes towards renting. While many youngsters need to save for longer before they can buy a home, others opt for flexible, city centre living which is best suited to renters.

How shared ownership works

Shared ownership is a scheme implemented by the government offering mortgages to help first-time buyers on lower incomes buy a property. It involves taking a mortgage out on the share you own, and paying rent on the rest, and normally includes the option of buying the remaining share of the property further down the line.

If your household earnings are less than £80,000 (£90,000 in London) per year, and you’re a first-time buyer or previous homeowner who can no longer afford to buy, or are renting from the council or a housing association, you’re eligible to apply.

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