MHCLG announces preferred Homes England chair

The housing secretary Robert Jenrick has announced Argent co-founder Peter Freeman as the government’s chosen candidate to chair its housing delivery body Homes England.
Argent’s King’s Cross Central development in London. Credit: Crookesmoor/Creative Commons

The housing secretary Robert Jenrick has announced Peter Freeman as the government’s chosen candidate to chair its housing delivery body Homes England.

Freeman is founder and chair of Mayfield Market Towns Ltd, which is half owned by Clarion Housing Group, and is perhaps best known for his work in leading the regeneration of London King’s Cross as a co-founder of the UK property developer Argent.

Freeman was awarded a CBE for his services to housing and communities in the 2020 New Year’s Honours list and has been praised for his track record of ‘planning and delivering much needed revival of local areas’.

As chair of Homes England Freeman will be tasked with transforming the operations of the organisation, driving the delivery of much-needed homes and infrastructure across England.

Jenrick said: “As the visionary behind the revival of Kings Cross, Peter has a track record of world-class regeneration and it is this along with his drive to create places people want to live that makes him a superb candidate to support our ambitious housing agenda.

“We will work closely on our shared goal to deliver more homes, of high-quality design and environmental standards, with green spaces and new parks close at hand and tree lines streets are the norm – all as part of creating communities that people want to be a part of.”

As chair, Freeman will be expected to lead Homes England’s support for more diverse and efficient housebuilding, working with developers of all sizes and supporting new forms of housebuilding such as modern methods of construction (MMC). The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has set a minimum target for the use of MMC in its new 2021-26 Affordable Homes Programme.

Homes England will also be tasked with helping councils to develop more homes as they adapt to the government’s move towards a more locally led planning system.

Freeman said: “Homes England has a vital role to play in improving the lives of all those affected by the housing crisis. If appointed, and working closely with Government, I believe we can, and must, deliver on the promise to provide homes to allow all to experience a better quality of life.

“The key is not only in building the necessary quantity, quality and variety of housing, but in creating homes where people can enjoy a real sense of belonging to vibrant communities.”

Freeman’s appointment to the role is subject to a pre-appointment scrutiny committee hearing with the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee next month.

Should Freeman be confirmed as chair of Homes England he will serve a three-year term in the role. He is also expected to step down from his role as chair of Mayfield Market Towns to avoid potential conflict of interest.

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