Land grab for housing angers National Trust

The changes have provoked opposition from rural groups who warn that the reforms pose a threat to green spaces in cities

A A A

Land "twice the size of Leicester" is to be released by the Government in order to tackle the shortage of housing across the UK.

Home-ownership in England is predicted to fall from 72 per cent to just 64 per cent over the next decade, the lowest level since the mid-1980s.

At the same time the average house price is predicted to rise from £214,647 this year to £260,304 in 2016.

In London, the National Housing Federation (NHF) predicts that the majority of people living in the capital will rent by 2021, with the number of owner-occupiers falling from 52 per cent to 44 per cent.

Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, admitted that not enough houses had been built, but claimed that this could be offset by changes to the planning laws and releasing government-owned land for building.

The Government estimates that the public sector owns 63,750 hectares of previously developed land that might be available for redevelopment, of which 28,810 hectares are suitable to build 1.2 million homes. About 10 per cent of this land is owned by local authorities, and 16 per cent owned by other public bodies.

But the changes have provoked strong opposition from the National Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, who warn that the planned reforms pose a threat to green spaces in cities, towns and villages.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Shapps said that "the only long-term solution" to the housing crisis was "to build more homes". "We are releasing enough government land to build Leicester twice over across the country – it is a massive programme," he said.

"We are reforming the planning system which is massively complex and very, very slow. The Government's aspiration is to meet people's aspirations and lots of people still want to own their own homes. I think it is the Government's responsibility to try and help people meet their aspirations."

But the NHF warned of a bleak outlook due to under-supply of homes. Chief executive, David Orr, said: "With home ownership in decline, rents rising rapidly and social housing waiting lists at a record high, it's time to face up to the fact that we have a totally dysfunctional housing market.

"Home ownership is increasingly the preserve of the wealthy and, in parts of the country like London, the very wealthy. And for the millions locked out of the property market the options are becoming increasingly limited as demand sends rents rising sharply and social homes waiting lists remain at record levels."

A National Trust spokeswoman claimed it was not the laws that were to blame for the low level of house building, but the economy. She said: "We are not against house building. But in our view changing the planning laws risks creating a free for all where development is presumed without any regard to sustainability."

Why Sheffield beats London in price-rise league

London's position at the top of the property price rise ladder has been overthrown by Sheffield, writes Jonathan Brown. The price of prime homes in the South Yorkshire city grew by 10.6 per cent in the first six months of this year, compared to just 2.7 per cent in the capital. Demand for the most sought after homes in regional cities saw Bristol record growth of 9.7 per cent and Cardiff 8.1 per cent, research from property website Primelocation.com found. However a prime property in Sheffield is likely to cost just £319,764 compared to £1,149,129 in London. The top 10 per cent of properties in all areas continued to increase sharply in value – up by £129 per day to an average of £652,862.

What's so great about Sheffield? How about these...

1. Topography

Like Rome, Sheffield is a city of hills – seven in fact. The highest point is at High Stones – 1,798ft (548m).

2. Greenery

With 2.5million trees it is claimed to be the most wooded city in England per head of population. A third of the city is in the Peak District National Park.

3. Cutlery

It founded itself as an industrial powerhouse on steel, coal and of course cutlery. Now Sheffield is building a reputation as a centre for hi-tech industry.

4. Drama

The Crucible Theatre may have staged one of the most nail-biting clashes in snooker history: the 1985 'black ball' final between Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis. Yet when the green baize is packed away, the venue boasts some of the most popular theatre outside the capital. It celebrates its 40th anniversary this year with a season including Othello with local actor Dominic West.

5. Music

The Steel City sound of the 1980s produced ABC, The Human League, Cabaret Voltaire and Heaven 17. In the 1990s there was Pulp, and more recently the Arctic Monkeys.

6. The Derby

Derby clashes between Sheffield United and Wednesday are visceral. The city can lay claim to the world's oldest team – Sheffield FC, founded in 1856. They play in the NPL Division One South.

7. Jessica Ennis

Sheffield is the home of former world champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis.

8. University

The city's two universities give the city one of the biggest (54,000) student populations in Britain.

9. Curry

The Old Vicarage is Sheffield's Michelin-starred restaurant. The city is also famous for the Kashmir Curry Centre.

10. Festivals

175,000 people turn up to Sheffield's Tramlines festival – a three-day celebration of the city's musical heritage.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor