27th April 2022

First Homes – where are we now?

Ros Trotman, a partner in Thrings’ Planning team, revisits First Homes, the latest addition to affordable housing, to see where we are now.

To recap - what are First Homes?

First Homes are effectively discounted housing available to eligible first-time buyers. More specifically, the criteria in the Planning Practice Policy Guidance (PPG) includes:

  • a minimum 30% discount against the market value of the property;
  • sold to a first-time buyer (individual or individuals) whose combined income does not exceed £80,000 (or £90,000 in Greater London) in the tax year immediately preceding the year of purchase, with a mortgage or home purchase plan to fund a minimum of 50% of the discounted purchase price (and any other locally set criteria);
  • after the discount has been applied, the first sale must be at a price no higher than £250,000 (or £420,000 in Greater London) - these caps only apply on first sale and may be lower where supported by an evidential need;
  • The government wants 25% of all new affordable housing to be First Homes.

What are the key dates?

The concept of First Homes came into effect in June 2021.

The deadline for Development Plans to be submitted for examination without First Homes provisions was 28 December 2021.

As of 28 March 2022, new applications for planning permission have to consider First Homes (both for outline and full planning permission).

What does this mean in practice?

Local authorities will need to comply with the First Homes requirements through their Development Plan. With at least 25% of the affordable housing on new development schemes being First Homes, the remaining 75% will be dictated by the Development Plan with priority given to social rent housing. This means that other types of affordable housing will be impacted.

A worked example provided in the PPG sets out that if the local plan requires 80% of units to be shared ownership and 20% to be social rent, a policy-compliant application would deliver 25% First Homes units, 20% social rent and 55% shared ownership.

It’s going to be slow progress seeing any great numbers of First Homes coming through to the market for first time buyers any time soon given the timelines associated with the process for new Development Plans, followed by the determination of planning applications and appeals, discharge of conditions, time for implementation and then build.

For further information on this issue, please contact the Planning team.