What does the Letwin review mean for housing policy?


Oliver Letwin’s review into build-out rates espouses a more varied approach to development. But some fear his proposals are too complex

Housing policy wonks have been eagerly awaiting the final Letwin review into housing delivery ever since the interim report came out in June. There had been rumours the final draft might have been published mid-October but in the end it was timed to coincide with Philip Hammond’s Budget. It’s not surprising the chancellor wanted to control the timing: after all, it was Hammond who commissioned the report this time last year, prompted by allegations that volume housebuilders hoard development land in order to keep the price of new homes artificially high. Few in the industry were surprised when his preliminary update on the review, published alongside the Treasury’s annual spending statement in March, gave short shrift to the idea that the housebuilding majors were guilty of the charge of so-called landbanking.

Even so, Sir Oliver Letwin thinks the slow delivery of housing on large sites is definitely a problem. His answer to how to increase output from such sites is for the government to encourage a wider range of housing than the standard for-sale homes that make up the vast majority of these new estates. 

“There are nuggets of good ideas but the fear is that the system he is proposing to create ends up in a bureaucratic nightmare”

Jonathan Seager, London First


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