Momentum building among councillors for BTR and brownfield development

New research has found that there is a growing appetite among councillors for single-family rental homes and brownfield redevelopment.

Related topics:  Property,  Build to Rent,  Council,  Brownfield
Property | Reporter
11th October 2023
Brownfield 711
"We are witnessing a critical juncture in the housing crisis, where the need for single-family BTR homes, designed specifically for long-term rent and professionally managed, has never been more pronounced"
- David Mawson - Placefirst

A significant 54% of councillors expressed their preference for larger family homes over one and two-bedroom apartments within their local authorities. Furthermore, 57% of councillors now recognize the concept of Build-to-Rent, marking a significant shift in momentum and understanding of this housing solution.

The research, from YouGov, conducted on behalf of build-to-rent developer Placefirst, which polled over 570 councillors in local authorities based outside of London, also found a compelling insight into the perception of Build-to-Rent properties. The need for BTR, a property development strategy designed with the sole intention of answering to housing demand for the rental market, was acknowledged by a significant majority of these councillors.

Placefirst/ YouGov Councillor polling findings:

Family homes are the housing type most favoured by Councillors (54%), which also encompass single-family rental homes taking many forms of house type

Over half of Councillors are aware of the BTR tenure, with awareness slightly higher among Conservative Councillors (57 vs 68%)

Councillors believe BTR developers are most likely to build flats or apartments, followed by semi-detached houses (56%)

Councillors would most favour semi-detached houses to be built by developers in their local authority area, followed by flats (59%)

Support for brownfield land being prioritised for redevelopment is near-universal among Councillors. Support is also high for town centres being regenerated with family housing (96%)

Among the councillors surveyed, 56% think BTR developers are most likely to build flats or apartments. However, their expressed preference leans towards semi-detached houses (59%) as the top choice for developers in their local authority areas, followed closely by apartments. This preference highlights the increasing significance of providing suitable housing options that cater to the needs of families, which is something that the BTR market can address through the provision of single-family rental homes.

A key finding from the research is the overwhelming support (96%) for prioritising brownfield land for redevelopment. Councillors believe that utilising previously developed land can be an effective approach to optimise resources and create sustainable communities. Moreover, there is significant backing for regenerating town centres with family housing, offering the opportunity to revitalise urban areas while fulfilling the demand for larger homes.

Placefirst’s Chief Executive, David Mawson, said: "We are witnessing a critical juncture in the housing crisis, where the need for single-family BTR homes, designed specifically for long-term rent and professionally managed, has never been more pronounced.

"Build-to-rent can play a crucial role in addressing this challenge by offering families quality, energy-efficient, and spacious rental options. By prioritising the development of semi-detached houses and other family-friendly housing types, we can create thriving communities that cater to the needs of current and future generations."

David added: “The recognition among councillors of all stripes that brownfield land should be prioritised for development to meet housing needs, following successful models in other regions, is a welcome one.

"By revitalising underutilised urban spaces, inspired by the successes of brownfield regeneration across the country, this approach not only breathes new life into cities but also addresses the pressing demand for housing in a sustainable and environmentally conscious manner.

"Brownfield regeneration presents a unique opportunity to create modern, vibrant communities while preserving greenfield sites and safeguarding precious natural landscapes for future generations."

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