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Mark Prisk pledges to free up housing finance

New housing minister Mark Prisk has told CN that loosening affordable housing requirements will be crucial for developers that are sometimes asked to do “too much”.

Mr Prisk spoke to CN during his visit to a housing project in Croydon, south London, and called the government’s section 106 policies “a radical step” in improving the housebuilding sector.

He has pledged to work with industry figures to solve the housing crisis after questions were raised as to whether his predecessor, Grant Shapps, was more committed to presentation than to policy.

Mr Prisk told CN his priority was to build “more homes – more decent homes for more people”.

“It’s about bank loans to help the builders and the developers, it’s also about mortgages”, he said, hailing the government’s Funding for Lending scheme as “a really important step” in freeing up the flow of credit by providing cheap credit access to banks that lend.

Commenting on the Berkeley Saffron Square development, he said: “A bit of regulation, in the form of s106 agreements, made this site unviable.

“The business and the council were flexible and now you see 750 homes happening because that’s made the site viable.”

He backed the government’s moves earlier this month to reduce regulatory burdens, saying that “sometimes, quite understandably, people ask too much of the developer”.

Mr Prisk also spoke of the importance of enabling first-time buyers to purchase homes, saying the benefits would be felt through “the chains they unlock”.

He added that the NewBuy scheme was “picking up pace”, praising the initiative that is set to help 25,000 people.

The minister told CN that as a chartered surveyor by profession, he valued the experience of leading industry figures.

Mr Prisk said he hoped to draw on this experience to tackle the problems of regulation and credit availability currently plaguing the industry, adding that “we want to see [developers] building more”.

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