28 Jul New analysis argues that the UK needs 300,000 new homes a year
Article in PropertyWire 26 July Weekly 2016 (reproduced with permission of PropertyWire Weekly)
The UK needs 300,000 new homes to be built every year rather than the target 200,000 proposed by the current government, it is claimed.
Land brokers Aston Mead says that the 200,000 is evidently too low and its analysis of the situation comes as others have also pointed out that the number of new homes being built will not meet demand.
For example, last week a new report from the cross-party House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, also said that the current 200,000 target is not high enough.
According to Charles Hesse, Aston Mead land and planning director, the figure is evidently too low but last year it was not met with only 160,000 new homes completed.
‘The last time the UK built more than 200,000 homes a year it was post-war, and there was a massive council housing programme under way. So we need radical changes in the way that we approach house-building, to enable construction to take place at a much faster rate,’ he said.
He has drawn up a three point plan that would help to fund construction and free-up available land so that companies can start building with the minimum of delay. Firstly this involves the creation of a National Housebuilding Fund to finance public sector commissioning.
‘Borrowing costs are at rock-bottom, and something in the region of £20 billion would cover the cost of constructing 100,000 homes, which could be sold direct into owner occupation,’ he explained.
Secondly, he suggests developers and planners should be braver about building on the less desirable areas of greenbelt. ‘Whilst some of it should be preserved at all costs, other areas would actually be improved by being built on. There are 514,000 hectares of green belt surrounding London. You only need a tiny fraction of that to more than satisfy housing supply,’ he pointed out.
Finally, he suggests that local authorities should be encouraged to release land they themselves own as in London alone there is enough public sector land to build at least 130,000 homes.
‘A lot of authorities are not planning for enough houses, and they are not getting enough challenges from the planning inspectors about how to do it. And if that means an intervention from central Government, then so be it. Ultimately, we need to double the current rate of construction,’ he added.
He believes that ‘tinkering at the edges’, providing a dozen homes here and there is no longer enough. ‘House building needs a radical overhaul, and without it we will never get close to the target of 300,000 new homes a year that this country so desperately needs,’ he concluded.