Recession may trigger serious housing crisis, ministers told

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The Independent Online

A huge divide has opened up between the views of the "have" and "have nots" in the property market and many people are in denial about the dearth of housebuilding in Britain shores, an influential government advisory body on housing affordability warned yesterday.

More than half of homeowners oppose more residential property being built in their areas, but this falls to fewer than a third among non-home owners, the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit (NHPAU) reported. In a further example of the gulf opening up in the market, nine out of 10 people aged between 18 and 34 who did not own property told the NHPAU's researchers that they could not afford an average-priced home aimed at first-time buyers. This has left six million unable to get on the property ladder until prices fall to more affordable levels and they get reasonable access to a mortgage.

According to NHPAU's third-annual report into attitudes on housing and affordability, the mismatch between supply and demand will get worse until house building recovers from the recession. The report states the consequences for individuals and families will become "increasingly severe" unless major steps are taken to address the lack of supply. For NHPAU's "Public Attitudes to Housing 2009" report, the market research firm YouGov interviewed 2,023 adults of all ages and 1,619 18-34 year olds.

Steve Nickell, theNHPAU chairman, said many people were "simply in denial" about the new housing needed, adding: "We cannot go on dodging the housing challenge. If we don't provide enough new homes, more people will live in overcrowded conditions, more young people will be forced to continue living with their parents, and the aspirations of millions of live in the kind of homes they want, will be dashed.

"It is vital that regional and local planners give due weight to the obligations the Government has placed on them to take account of affordability."