Boris’s Proposed ‘Unmortgage’ Rent to Buy Scheme

Property Board

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson is looking at investing public funds in a new part-buy, part-rent scheme.

Leading estate agents, the Romans Leaders Group, have been quick to reveal details of their new shared ownership division. Staff on the social housing magazine, Inside Housing, have said they were told of the Prime Minister’s interest in shared ownership by two sources who know of Johnson’s plans.

How the scheme would work

The staff believe that the new scheme could be designed to reduce demand for rented social housing, and would be part of a concerted effort to concentrate on home ownership. It is unclear currently whether the scheme will replace Help to Buy once it is scrapped in March 2023.

Shared ownership is restricted to people earning less than £80,000 per annum (£90,000 in London) and is usually operated by a social housing provider.

It is not without its critics, however – some part-owners find it impossible to ‘staircase’ or buy progressively more of a property, while others are deterred by additional costs such as monthly service charges or the legal and administrative expense involved in increasing ownership.

There can also be complications when it comes to resale. Nonetheless, the new PM’s interest in shared ownership is well-known. In 2011, Johnson, then mayor of London, promised Sunderland-based housing association Gentoo £40 million to expand their scheme, Genie Home Purchase, into the capital.

The plan would have involved Genie buying properties and offering them mortgage-free to aspiring would-be owners with a 30-year payment plan resulting in full ownership.

But the scheme failed to attract investment in the north-east and was scrapped in 2016. Some landlords in the private sector have even experimented with variations of shared ownership with varying degrees of success.

The Unmortgage scheme

A new scheme, Unmortgage, involves forming partnerships with institutional investors instead of social housing landlords. It’s business model provides a means whereby people can access home ownership through a part-own, part-rent process that pairs buyers with investors.

Under the scheme, renters can purchase as little as 5% of a property without a mortgage, renting the remaining 95% and ‘staircasing’ their way to owning more of the property as and when funds allow. Properties can be either new-build or second-hand.

Unmortgage, which last year raised the largest seed capital in Europe for a fintech, announced a new partnership earlier this month with Allianz Global Investors.

Estate agents Savills has stated it expects demand for shared ownership to increase in excess of 15,000 per annum once Help to Buy is scrapped.

The Leaders Romans Group

Over the weekend, the Leaders Romans Group, with 130 branches, publicised its new shared ownership division. CEO Peter Kavanagh said that it had become increasingly apparent that the company should be investing time and resources precisely in this aspect of home ownership.

Kavanagh went on to say that shared ownership is not something estate agents normally become involved in, and he didn’t think it could be operated and managed through a standard office.

The Romans’ shared ownership team will focus on new-build properties and the company has appointed Adrian Plant as director of shared ownership.

Homes England to Develop 13,000 Homes on Golf Course West of Crawley

Crawley and Horsham districts have long had their eye on this plot of land.

Estates Gazette

Homes England has agreed to acquire 160 acres at Ifield Golf Club, in a major step to deliver a new £3bn garden village outside of Crawley, Sussex. It is planning to deliver 3,250 homes in the first phase at the 480-acre Ifield site, and will create a masterplan for a 10,000-home village on a wider 1,483-acre footprint in future phases. Homes England will apply to central government for the site to be recognised as distinct new settlement, with its own community facilities and eligible for state funding. The acquisition builds on the department’s legacy ownership of 320 acres.

‘“We are talking too much about this bit of land and that bit of land,” what drafters of Local Plans can Learn from D&D

Leaders Forum Warrington

Cllr Bowden (LAB – Birchwood) was pressed on the issue during this week’s leader’s forum.

Speaking in relation to the information sent out in the ‘last couple of years’, he says the council has ‘missed an opportunity’ as it has failed to properly ‘talk about’ what kind of homes people in Warrington will need.

He also insists it is ‘really important’ to recognise existing communities and their voices, while labelling the draft as a ‘highly technical document’.

Furthermore, Cllr Bowden highlighted the importance of improving health services, public transport and community facilities over the next two decades.

“We are talking too much about this bit of land and that bit of land,” he added.

“We didn’t provide enough information – this is another example of me saying the council doesn’t always get it right.

“Now, what I’m trying to do is slowly wind some of that stuff back.”

Of course planners will always get it in the neck after consultation on an inevitably complicated issue such as Green Belt.  However planners dont always make it easy to wade through the technical, with cross references to Green Belt Review documents, SHLAAs etc. which dont always add up.  Part of the reason being the point long made by Future Cities Catapult that local plans and policy maps arnt digital documents that are seamlessly linked together, enabling for example modelling different scenarios of the 5YHLS simply and easily without having to recreate everything from scratch in a spreadsheet.

Indeed many local plans now remind me of the suite of AD&D rulebooks where mastery of the game depended on which book you owned rather than the narrative you took part in.

Its producers learnt, simplifying the rules and introducing a young adventurers handbook.

Are these Basic RPG rule books for young readers?

No. These books do not replace the D&D Player’s Handbook. They’re rules-free illustrated guides to the core concepts of D&D, built so the reader can discover the lore without being overwhelmed by the rules.

Many local plans string together technical issues without setting down the narrative of hard choices that the plan has gone through in simple clear English that is understandable to a non planner.  Even planners struggle with the lack of structure of many plans, them not being ‘designed documents’ and only written in word for example and not integrating text and graphics in a way a modern reader expects.   I havn’t seen a local plan in the last two years that couldn’t be edited down to half its length.  So there might be a lot to learn surrounding the presentation of policy isues concerning Beholders Green Belt Review


Bradford Reduces Local Plan Target by 700 units a year because of dodgy standard method

This is happening like Leeds because the standard method means that roughly the highest quartile of affordable authorities have to reduce their SOAN below demographic need, and often ignore the required employment uplift to reduce Green Belt loss.  A simple fix to get the 278,000 a year to the governments target of 300,000 would be to only apply the affordability adjustment where it is positive (it was always intended as a boost).

Telegraph and Argus

TWEAKS to the Bradford Local Plan have downgraded the number of homes that need to be built in the district each year.

And it could mean swathes of greenbelt are spared from development.

But the revised figures will still require a huge amount of homes to be built across the district each year.

Bradford Council’s original draft local plan for the coming years had said the district needed to provide 2,476 new homes a year.

But a dramatic change in government policy announced last summer meant the Council had to go back to the drawing board, as it was likely this figure would fall dramatically.

£64 million link road plan to beat congestion in South BradfordToday more details of the revised local plan have been released, which show the district will now only need 1,703 new homes a year.

Last year 1,600 homes were delivered in Bradford – which was a 10 year high.

The reduction will mean fewer Green Belt sites will be needed to deliver the new homes – although a chunk of the required housing will still likely need to be built on green land.

But one site that is likely to be considered for housing is Green Belt land to the East of Holme Wood – referred to by the Council as a “sustainable urban extension.”

The Council has previously said that around 2,000 homes could be built there, and a proposed South East Bradford link road would “unlock” sites for such a development.

Under the original plans, around 11,000 homes would likely need to be built on Green Belt Lane around the district. But Andrew Marshall, Planning and Transport Strategy Manager, said: “There will be a significant reduction in the amount of green belt land that will be required.” He said it could be half the amount previously suggested.

He said the focus will be on developing brownfield sites, with 70 per cent of developments being centred in the city of Bradford.

The remaining 30 per cent will be allocated to towns and villages around the district.

The plan sets out developments in the district until 2037 – and also sets out future employment sites as well as housing.

The documents released today do not reveal which areas will be allocated for housing, but lays out the methods planners will use to pick sites.

The amount of employment land needed in the coming years has also been downgraded. Originally the Council was looking to create 135 hectares of employment sites as part of their efforts to create 1,600 jobs a year. But under the new plan just 60 hectares will be needed.

Mr Marshall said this reduction was down to the gradual changes in the type of employment in the district – with fewer large sites needed to provide the same amount of jobs.

Elsewhere the report details how future developments will respond to climate change concerns – with sustainable travel a bigger part of housing sites.

And developers will be pushed to create better quality green spaces and gardens as part of their sites.

A public consultation on the plans is expected after the summer break.

The full plan is unlikely to have been approved by Central Government until around 2022.