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Building More Homes – new House of Lords report

  • 15 Jul 2016

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We must tackle housing crisis says House of Lords committee

howardchapmanHoward Chapman, Buildingtalk Editor, outlines details from a new House of Lords report Building More Homes that calls for a new target of 300k houses to be built each year to be achieved by enabling local government and housing associations to get back into the business of building homes.

Building More Homes

Fullscreen capture 15072016 072938Building More Homes, a new report from cross-party House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, criticises the Government’s housing policy and calls on them to lift its house building target by 50% and build 300,000 homes each year in response to the deepening housing crisis.

It says Local authorities and housing associations must be freed to build substantial numbers of homes for rent and for sale.

Main recommendations

Lift restraints on local authority borrowing

Local authorities should be free to borrow to fund social housebuilding as they are other building programmes. This would enable local authorities to resume their historic role as one of the major builders of new homes, particularly social housing.

The current historically low cost of borrowing means local authorities could make a large contribution to building the houses we need for the future. Further, the new Prime Minister has announced that the Government will abandon their fiscal target. This paves the way to increase local authority borrowing powers.

Council tax charge on delayed developments

Local authorities should levy council tax on developments that are not completed within a set time period.

Maximise the use of public land

The Government must take decisive steps to build on the very substantial holdings of surplus publicly owned land.

Download the full Building More Homes report

Watch the Building More Homes video

Video sets out the key recommendations in the report.

Fullscreen capture 15072016 073859Lord Hollick, Chairman of the Committee:

“We are facing an acute housing crisis with home ownership – and increasingly renting – being simply unaffordable for a great many people. The only way to address this is to increase supply. The country needs to build 300,000 homes a year for the foreseeable future. The private sector alone cannot deliver that. It has neither the ability nor motivation to do so. We need local government and housing associations to get back into the business of building. If the housing crisis is to be tackled the Government must allow local authorities to borrow to build and accelerate building on surplus public land.”

3 comments on “Building More Homes – new House of Lords report

  • Comment from the Brick Development Association CEO Andrew Eagles on the Building More Homes report.

    “We have seen lots of hand-wringing over the lack of housing over the past decade. Incentives to private sector developers are encouraging, but provide a single-solution approach that distorts the housing market and encourages increasingly high house prices. Unless the whole sector is involved there is no realistic possibility of getting anywhere near to solving the chronic shortage of homes.

    “This report is hugely welcome as it not only identifies the problem, but offers practical solutions that could start to address it quickly. It supports the comments made by Theresa May this week on the housing shortage and we very much welcome this focus.

    “Let’s get building!”

  • It seems that the proposers of 300,000 new homes per year for the UK, which is a laudable objective, have not looked at the detail required to achieve this. The simple fact is that the UK is already forced to import clay bricks from Belgium and Netherlands at the current rate of construction because all of the major brick manufacturers, such as Ibstock, Wienerberger and former Hanson had to close down or mothball many of their brick plants when their inventories climbed and sales slumped in the last recession. A few mothballed plants are now being re-opened and one major new plant expansion is underway but the total UK brick making capacity is still far below that of a few years ago and cannot meet a building programme of even 200,000 homes per year. Now the target is 300,000. It takes time and high investment for new state-of-the art brick plants to come on line and these are normally restricted to locations, which already have planning permission for the extraction of clay. I wonder if anyone discussed the additional investment needs in the UK brick manufacturing industry with the brick manufacturers and the timeline required to ramp up production to meet 200,000 or 300,000 homes per year to determine whether these objectives are realistic? In addition, there is a skills shortage in terms of even bricklayers, which is being been met by Polish and other EU artisans. What plans have been made to rapidly increase the number of apprentice bricklayers, plumbers and electricians etc from UK vocational schools ? Is there going to be a relaxation in the planning restrictions in building more homes in villages and small towns ? All over Belgium, for instance, new houses are being built each year in almost every small village and in towns, apartments are built above shops to give a mixed residential and commercial locale, so that shopping areas are not deserted ghost towns at night.

    We certainly need more new homes each year, including many more social housing projects but to achieve this objective, rapid action first has to be taken to solve all the many details, which together are currently restricting the building of new homes in UK. Let’s hope the new administration is serious about solving the UK’s longstanding housing deficiency.

  • Local Government Association comment via BBC
    Councils must resume house building role
    Councils should be given the chance to resume their “historic role” as house builders to ease an affordable housing crisis, their lobby group says.The need was even greater following the economic uncertainty caused by the UK’s vote to leave the EU, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.It estimated that at least four million people of working age in England would need affordable housing by 2024.

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