Housing white paper: “What is not to like?” says industry chief

10 February 2017

The Government’s Housing White Paper went down well with the British Woodworking Federation (BWF). “What is not to like?” said its chief, Brian McIlwee.

Launched earlier this week by communities secretary Sajid Javid, the white paper sets out a range of proposals intended to – as the Government put it – fix the “broken” housing market in the UK. However, its overall reception was somewhat lukewarm among housing and related industry figures.

However, with its measures intended to encourage smaller builders to build new homes, and improve the availability of viable land for housing development, it’s gained a rather warmed welcome from the timber industry.

Other pledges in the white paper include building more “affordable” houses, help people buy and rent, and giving councils powers to pressurise developers to start building on land they own.

“The Housing White Paper reaffirms the Government’s commitment to resolve what really is the biggest issue on our socio-economic landscape. Rather than seeking a magic bullet, it is a broad strategy that covers all parts of the housing sector, ensuring that the volume housebuilders are free and encouraged to build on available land, and vitally creating an easier mechanism for the custom housebuilder to literally fill in the gaps,” said McIlwee.

“The strategy addresses the balance between ownership and rental properties. And through repeated reference to quality, it reaffirms that it is not just a numbers game, but seeks to ensure we are building quality properties that will stand the test of time – a strong underlying thinking which is very much a Natural Capital approach of not leaving a mess for future generations. This carries into the section on climate change and wherever possible has a positive impact on employment in the UK.

“So I am very relieved to see that the social and environmental opportunities have not been overlooked. The whole timber supply chain is ready to support local authorities in developing policies to support this approach, and of course to ensure that the natural advantages of wood are put to good use in delivering the sustainable housing stock we so desperately need.”