Housing minister Esther McVey has announced plans to utilise technology to help homebuilders and communities all over the UK. 

McVey said she will “bring about a digital revolution in the property sector”, helping small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) homebuilders to find build sites. 

McVey held talks this week with several proptech (real estate technology) firms which are helping homebuilders and communities, to kick-start the government’s new tech drive. 

The proposals mostly apply to the new-build sector. Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) will be opened up so that information about the buying process is more transparent. CPOs allow land or property to be obtained without the consent of the owner, which may be actioned if a home is considered a danger to the public, or deserted for several years. 

Describing CPOs as a “valuable tool” for enabling development, McVey hopes this will enable builders to obtain information on energy performance and the square footage information of properties. 

Additionally, a national index of all brownfield data will be introduced, helping developers and builders to find brownfield land to build on. 

McVey also said that new technologies could also be introduced to help prospective homebuyers gauge commute times, for instance. McVey said: “This technology could transform the way we find and purchase homes.”

(MORE: Learn more about brownfield sites and plot hunting)

Furthermore, new technologies could help enable communities to comment on planning applications online, and see models and interactive maps of planned development. Currently only one or two pictures are typically available. 

As yet the government has not revealed full details regarding the implementation of these technology proposals. 

Impact on the Self Build Sector

The proposals could make it easier for SME homebuilders to source land to build on, which is of pertinence for the self build and custom build sectors, both important sources of work for SME homebuilders. Earlier this month, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) recognised self build’s importance for its SME homebuilder members in the FMB House Builders’ Survey 2019.

SME home builders often operate in smaller towns and play a vital role in housing delivery, either for self build projects or renovations or builds benefiting the local area. 

McVey said: “The UK property sector is on the cusp of a digital revolution. It’s time to harness new technology to unlock land and unleash the potential of housebuilders. Whatever homebuyers prioritise, whether it’s the quality of local schools, the probability of getting a seat on a train, or having easy access to leisure facilities, this technology could transform the way we find and purchase homes.”

Last month, McVey pledged the government’s support for Right to Build as a means of improving housing in the UK, acknowledging that escalating housing prices “cannot be right.”

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