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


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 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.

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
All the major parties are under pressure from sceptical voters to spell out their tax and spending plans
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and artistic director Matthew Warchus at the Old Vic party to honour Spacey
theatreStar's successor at Old Vic theatre admits he's 'allergic to hype'
Life and Style
life + healthVirginia Ironside's dilemma, during Depression Awareness Week
Arts and Entertainment
The median income for professional writers is just £10,432, less than the minimum wage
booksSurvey reveals authors' earnings
Life and Style
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders