Richard Deacon

Small sites in the spotlight

News of ‘radical’ new housebuilding plans hit the headlines last week, as London mayor Sadiq Khan launched the consultation for City Hall’s new London Plan – designed to help tackle the city’s housing shortage.

With an ever-growing population, the need to build new homes will always exist in the capital. The mayor focused minds by reminding everyone exactly how eye-watering these figures are by stating: “London’s population is expected to increase by 70,000 every year, reaching 10.8m in 2041.”

His big plan puts small sites in the spotlight and frankly, given that population forecast, I’m not surprised City Hall wants to exercise its power to remove “outdated constraints” and encourage smaller housebuilders to get going.

As one of the very few UK lenders that offers self-build, short-term mortgages, Masthaven is well positioned to assist in the mayor’s plan, which highlights his “commitment to stimulate growth for small- and medium-sized builders in the capital”.

I’m thrilled that small sites – including back gardens and upward extensions of existing houses – have been thrown into the limelight. We have long been advocates for streamlined planning rules – so it’s music to our ears to hear that the mayor wants to rip up old planning rules.

With housing development space at a premium in London, I hope this policy shift gives more innovative planning applications the green light. With a plethora of TV programmes dedicated to housebuilding, this strategy has now become a very affordable and manageable experience, rather than buying off the shelf. 

Our self-build, short-term mortgages have helped numerous clients build the house of their dreams for a very reasonable cost. I am regularly captivated by the creativity of city dwellers in homes and property sections of the newspapers – don’t move, improve is a mantra for many now, as they opt to build up and across rather than move out.

In light of the new plan, London’s suburbs should no doubt be braced for a wave of construction. But I imagine the knock-on effect will be felt further and wider – right across the building industry and its associated sectors. Clients will always need professional advice, of course, but not just on the financial side of projects. Architects, suppliers, contractors and management teams will also need to be employed.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how City Hall’s consultation plays out – its vision for housebuilding in the capital is spot on: big builds boost capacity, but small sites should “play a much greater role in housing delivery” and there is a role for boroughs to proactively support custom, self-build projects.  

As urban policies are revamped to accommodate custom and self-build projects, I anticipate they will become more ‘normal’ and a route for an increasing number of people to buy and build their dream home. 

It’s great to be part of a sector that is primed to help so many people in the future. At one end of the spectrum we help developers at conception stage, while at the other end we help customers who are ready to improve, rather than move. Specialist banking is the vanguard for a whole new way of future living. 

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