–– HMRC collected a record £7.5 billion in stamp duty in the 2014/15 financial year, two-thirds (66%) of the total coming from London and the South East. Londoners paid 43 times more stamp duty than buyers in the North East over the past year, a reflection of the widening North-South divide in terms of activity and prices, but also the higher stamp duty charges for more expensive homes.
–– Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis says the Government is determined to deliver one million new homes during the course of this Parliament to tackle the housing shortage. He says the Government will link city and regional devolution to housing delivery, as well as reinstating planning rules exempting developers of small sites from Section 106 affordable housing obligations.
–– New research by the NHBC Foundation indicates house prices are not necessarily reduced on developments that successfully integrate social and private housing. Integrated housing or “pepper-potting” – where social and private homes are built side-by-side – was also found to increase social cohesion.
–– The government has announced that measures to make it easier to convert offices into residential use are to be made permanent. The new measures, which are incorporated in the Housing Bill, will additionally include permission to demolish existing offices and rebuild residential blocks, subject to limitations and prior approval by the local planning authority. The temporary permitted development rights introduced in 2013 to convert office premises to residential use were due to expire at the end of May 2016.
–– Office-to-residential conversion starts in the capital have risen dramatically in the year to May, according to EGi’s latest London Residential Market Analysis report. Last May, work had started on just 393 homes. By May this year, construction was under way on 5,354 – a 14-fold increase. When all are complete, London will have gained 5,747 homes through office-to-resi conversions – a healthy contribution to total housing starts over the same period, which stand at around 44,000, according to the ONS.
–– The UK is to get a new national house price index provided by the Office for National Statistics. The aim is to avoid the sometimes contradictory messages sent by the plethora of current indices. The new index will be published via the Land Registry pages of GOV.UK, providing a single, central point of access, from early in 2016.
“The changes to the Stamp Duty system have had a major impact on liquidity in the prime sales market, especially the mid to upper end in London. While being a major revenue generator for the Government, it is also compounding London’s affordability issues.” Nick Barnes, Chestertons’ Head of Research