300,000 extra homes need to be built every year to curb housing crisis, urges report

 

The UK needs a threefold increase in the number of new homes to help end the “blight” of poor housing, a report has concluded.

The study by the Future Homes Commission, a body instigated by the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba), called for 300,000 extra homes to be built every year on brownfield land and sections close to virtually every city, town and village in a "housing revolution".

The proposals would not cost "an extra penny" of Government spending or debt providing "the dysfunctional way we build homes is radically overhauled", while creating tens of thousands of new jobs and encouraging investment, the report said.

It suggested local authorities lead the plans by securing rental housing developments on behalf of their taxpayers by pooling their assets to provide communities with better homes.

The report called for five major changes that it said would lead to a "radical improvement in UK housing", beginning with an increase in the number of new homes built every year from the current 100,000 to more than 300,000.

An independently-managed £10 billion Local Housing Development Fund would kick-start the scheme and would be financed and owned by the largest Local Authority pension fund.

The report also called for a greater focus on design in all new homes to ensure they met residents' needs, making them fit for future generations and attractive to UK and international investors to allow the Local Authority pension funds to recycle their investment.

Other suggested changes included a more "consumer-oriented" housing market providing reliable information to buyers and a lead role for local councils to help them meet the needs of their communities and ensure a return on their investment.

Future Homes Commission chairman Sir John Banham said: "There is no better time to tackle the UK housing crisis.

"After a year-long national inquiry, the Future Homes Commission has concluded a housing revolution is entirely possible and will lead economic growth.

"We need to increase massively the number of quality homes being built for many years to come, but also to develop communities which enhance the quality of life for both new residents and those living in existing communities nearby. All this has to and can happen without any additional Government funding.

"We strongly believe that local government can become the leader of new development once again, by using their assets and powers to create the type of mature, sustainable, mixed tenure communities that Britain needs and that institutional and international investors want to invest in."

Riba president Angela Brady said: "The Future Homes Commission's recommendations provide an excellent starting point for delivering a radically improved housing market.

"In particular, the Riba supports the clear value that should be placed on ensuring the homes we build today meet current buyers' needs and are fit for future generations.

"This report gives a most comprehensive picture of the current housing crisis and details some simple solutions that will, with a concerted effort, result in better housing."

Housing charity Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said: "This is the kind of joined-up thinking we need to tackle our housing crisis. Building more homes is absolutely key, but it's equally important that new housing is affordable to people on a variety of incomes, and that it's better designed.

"Young families need homes that are built for family living, while local communities want new developments that don't take away from the quality of their area. Ensuring new homes are good quality and affordable for local people will be huge step forward in forming the consensus we need to get Britain building.

"This is not only vital for the economy, but for a generation of young people struggling to get a home of their own."

Housing minister Mark Prisk said: "We're determined to pull out all the stops to get Britain building and today's report from the Future Homes Commission raises innovative and interesting ideas which we will consider carefully.

"We've introduced a range of measures, including investing £19.5 billion of public and private funds into our affordable housing programme, £10 billion loan guarantees to get more homes built for rent and selling surplus, formerly-used public sector land with build-now-pay-later deals to get workers on sites and the homes we need built.

"But we're also cutting planning red tape and giving local communities a greater voice in how their local areas develop, enabling them to reflect local character, feature good architecture and homes designed to stand the test of time."

National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr said: "This welcome report is the latest from across the housing sector that shows a shared understanding of what the issues are and a determination to tackle the UK's housing crisis.

"We are building less than half the homes a year we need to meet demand, while millions of families are priced out of the housing market and struggle to keep on top of their rents. This cannot continue.

"House-building has the potential to drive economic growth and create thousands of jobs. Better use of public land and increased institutional investment could also boost the number of homes for sale and rent.

"We need to say yes to more homes and urgently fix the housing market. Otherwise we will have a generation who are priced out of renting a home, let alone buying one."

PA

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