Former head of the civil service and the Department for Communities and Local Government Lord Kerslake has urged new housing minister Gavin Barwell to instigate a wholescale review.
His comments come in the wake of a damning report from peers who called for at least 300,000 new homes a year to be built for the foreseeable future.
A report by the Lords’ economic affairs committee argued that one million homes by 2020 – the target set by the government in this parliament – “will not be enough”.
Peers also criticised the government’s failure to recognise its target could not be met by the private sector alone, arguing its ambitions could only be met by enabling local authorities and housing associations to meet the shortfall.
The report called on new prime minister Theresa May to reflect the importance of housing in her reshuffle by giving a senior cabinet minister responsibility for releasing public land for housing, while the National Infrastructure Commission should oversee delivery of housing on this land thereafter.
Other reforms called for include giving local authorities borrowing powers to fund social housing, greater flexibility on planning fees and the ability to financially penalise developments that are not completed within a set time period.
Writing in The Guardian, Lord Kerslake said of the report: “It ought to be required reading for the incoming housing minister, Gavin Barwell.
“Even if the share values of housebuilders recover to previous levels [pre-Brexit], the appetite for new development is unlikely to. In these uncertain times, even the 1 million new homes figure must be in serious doubt.
“What is needed is nothing less than a wholesale review of the government’s housing policy and a new approach set out in the Autumn Statement. In preparing their new plans, ministers and officials could do a lot worse than follow the recommendations of this excellent report.”