Judging by the responses from many companies selling property in Bucks – developers, estate agents, planners – Monday’s Budget was like finding your Christmas stocking stuffed with more gifts than you could have hoped for in your wildest flights of fancy followed by the disappointment when you realise the present you really wanted, the one at the top of your wish list, isn’t there.

First though, good news.

Inland Homes chief executive Stephen Wicks found plenty to cheer about in the Budget on behalf of those wanting to get a foot on the property ladder.

In September, following the two-year qualification period, the Amersham-based housebuilder specialising in brownfield sites became one of the first publicly-listed companies in the UK to be registered as a ‘for profit provider of social housing.’

That puts Inland’s newly formed subsidiary Rosewood Housing in line for a share of the £2 billion pledged by the government to increase the supply of shared ownership properties as well as homes to rent in the social sector.

Mr Wicks pointed out: “Before the Budget there were fears that help to buy would finish in 2021.

“Not only will stamp duty be waived for those getting on the ladder through shared ownership in the same way that it has been for first time buyers in the private sector since the initiative was introduced five years ago, a post-Budget press release circulated to the industry by the Home Builders Federation has confirmed that help to buy will continue in its present form until April 2021.

“The initiative will then continue for first time buyers until March 2023 although not for second steppers. Those using the scheme to move up a rung will no longer be eligible.

“Even so, that gives us four-and-a-half more years to help first time buyers in greatest need. I went to Ipswich yesterday to launch a development with help to buy. Seven properties were reserved before I left.”

The new scheme starting in 2021 will come with a revised price cap. The upper limit will vary according to region. In the south east it will be limited to new builds up to £437,000, not £600,000, the cut-off point under the current rules.

The Chancellor’s lack of largesse towards homeowners further up the property ladder left builders and estate agents dealing in the market for family homes in a bleak mood.

After listening to Philip Hammond reveal what was in his red box Chris Martin, managing director of Martin Grant Homes commented: “Whilst the Chancellor’s new stamp duty proposals are welcome [extending the tax relief to shared ownership homes worth up to £500,000] they still don’t address a serious constraint which lies at the top end of the market.

“Homeowners in the £1m+ bracket are being held captive by an expense that is just too prohibitive when it comes to selling up.

“Supply chains are feeling the impact…it’s disappointing this wasn’t properly addressed at the dispatch box.”

The reaction of Liam Bailey, global head of research at Knight Frank was similarly critical of the levy on house purchase. The agency has an office in Beaconsfield where the average price for a home is currently £1,053,975.

“Stamp duty is a badly designed tax,” he says. It reduces efficient allocation of property, limits labour market mobility, it is a disincentive for families to move to somewhere suited to their changing needs and ultimately it reduces the supply of new homes, the analyst claims.

The results of research by Lloyds Bank published last Saturday revealed that house prices in Beaconsfield are more expensive than in any other market town in England.

Local buyers pay a premium of 158 per cent, an extra £644,995, for the privilege of living in the HP9 postcode compared with the average for the county as a whole.

The south Bucks town already held the dubious distinction of coming first in the Lloyds list of areas across the country where parents pay the highest premium to live close to one of the top 30 state schools in England.

Henley was runner up as the market town with the least affordable homes. The average price there is £838,206. Buyers pay a premium of £430,112 above the norm for Oxfordshire.

Liam Bailey maintains the government’s proposal to impose a one-per cent surcharge on stamp duty for non-residents buying property in expensive areas would be counter productive.

“It will undermine investment,” he warns. “Rather than raising house prices, foreign purchases of new build property help to fund and therefore facilitate the delivery of much needed accommodation. 

“Stamp duty receipts from transactions fell by 6.1 per cent in the first six months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. The decline equates to reduction in tax take of £250m in the first half of this year.”

Faraz Baber, director of planning at Terence O’Rourke, the London-based award winning planning and design consultancy which helped to create the Harry Potter tour at Warner Bros studios in Leavesden says it will take joined up thinking on the part of local authorities to bring back the buzz to town centre high streets.

He said: “Recent attempts to allow automatic planning consent for converting commercial buildings to residential have seen some mixed results.

“While the rates relief window will help smaller retailers in the short term, the proposed changes to town planning laws could lead to the face of high streets changing considerably and possibly irreversibly.

“A thriving and sustainable high street needs to be able to adjust to market trends in an agile way. This is a balancing act which needs flexible planning regulations in place.

“However this shouldn’t mean a carte blanche approach which simply permits homes coming forward on the high street without a clear vision or masterplan.

“The challenge for local planning teams who are already stretched is to work out how to put all their pieces of the jigsaw together to have a lasting positive impact for future generations.

“To think they can do this alone will be one of the biggest mistakes they can make. It will be imperative that they work in partnership with the private sector that has a vested interest in the area whether they are major occupiers, commercial landlords or housebuilders.”