Howard Chapman

Too few homes are being built – how can this change?

  • 22 Sep 2015

Housing is in crisis. The National Housing Federation estimated 974,000 homes were needed between 2011 and 2014 but less than half of this number were built. Howard Chapman finds out more…

Besides creating misery for those wanting to buy their own home, it is also affecting the economy. The recent CBI/CBRE London Business Survey showed that nearly two thirds (59%) of the capital’s firms said building more quality and affordable housing was vital. Over half of firms (57%) cited housing costs and availability as negatively affecting their ability to recruit entry level staff.

Now, the Government are promising to build million homes built in England by 2020 but they failed woefully to reach their own targets during the Coalition years. Housing minister Brandon Lewis says this time it will be different but many organisations are sceptical.

The scale of the housing crisis is revealed in a BBC Inside Out investigation – revealing that 245,000 new homes were needed each year in England.

Gill Payne, director of policy and external affairs at the National Housing Federation said: “We haven’t built enough homes in this country for decades, and if the gap between the number of households forming and the number of new homes being built continues to grow, we are in danger of not being able to house our children.”

Some blamed planning procedures that are too slow, regulations restricting housing associations, shortage of skilled labour, developers sitting on large tracts of empty land instead of building on it, and a big drop in the number of councils building new homes.

What are the solutions?

The Campaign to Protect Rural England estimates there are enough brownfield areas to accommodate 1.8 million homes. Academics from the University of Nottingham believe homes of the future will be a mixture of vertical village skyscrapers and flat pack houses which will be highly energy efficient.

But will this really create the volume building on the scale required?

2 comments on “Too few homes are being built – how can this change?

  • CBI commented via email to Buildingtalk about the Government’s target of building 1 million homes in England by 2020.

    Rhian Kelly, CBI Business Environment Director, said: “We welcome the Government’s target of a million new homes by 2020. It should bring us closer to alleviating the national housing shortage, which is constraining growth and productivity. Business is ready and willing to help develop the strategy needed to fulfil this ambition and build the homes England needs. It’s important the Government keeps all options open for scaling up housing supply, including increasing capital investment in housing and freeing up low-quality green belt for development.”

  • My view, Its all about the cash!

    – Relax or remove Section 106 / CIL, this will make many more smaller sites viable. Councils will still get council tax once developments have been occupied.
    – Remove the requirement to offer significant proportions of a development for sale to HA’s as affordable. This will make more developments profitable therefore encourage smaller developers.
    – Allow more inner city or close to city developments to go up rather than out. I believe that properly coherently designed medium/high rise developments can become communities rather than be perceived as future slums. 
    – Encourage basements within developments, this will allow parking and services to be below ground allowing for more open space.

    Just my 2 pennies worth.

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