Let's build more homes on brownfield sites

Housing supply isn't keeping up with a growing population


We had the house valued last week. Allegedly, it’s risen in value by 30 per cent, despite our buying it as the ‘slump’ began. It should be good news, and it’s certainly better than a depreciation, but no-one is celebrating - apart from the estate agent.

I write ‘slump’, because in our part of west London there hasn’t been one. As the Lib Dems’ argue with each other as to whether or not there is a property market bubble, and if it is confined to London or not, in my area householders and would-be buyers look on bemused – or would if they paid attention to Lib Dem conferences.

The over-heated rental market is no better. Local rents are often higher than the like-for-like mortgage repayments. What do families do? How will our offspring ever be able to afford to live anywhere vaguely local? Small wonder there is a growing trend of children living at home with parents through their 20s. What’s more, many older people would like to ‘downsize’, but to where?

Your heart may not bleed for Londoners. You may be mired in negative equity, or have lost your job and be wondering how you will keep afloat.  However, we are all suffering from the same problem: the lack of any meaningful housing policy other than to cream as much money off homeowners via Stamp Duty and proposed mansion taxes or heap further pressure on the poor via the iniquitous bedroom tax.

The solution to the nation’s housing crisis is so obvious to its population that it seems bizarre to the point of obtuse of our leaders to lack the political will to implement it: build more homes, particularly on brownfield sites.

Last year the Department for Communities and Local Government issued figures for England alone suggesting that of the 62,000 hectares of ‘brownfield’ (or previously developed land) available, roughly half is suitable for house-building, enough for 1.5 million new homes.

Obviously, it is not as simple as that. There are many valid planning restrictions that might lower that total. However, last year new-builds (in England) fell by a shocking 11 per cent to below 100,000. And yet, 300,000-a-year is cited variously as the number required.

A genuine commitment to home-building would represent an immense boon to the construction sector. It would create thousands of new jobs, easing the benefits burden. The alternative, the failure of housing supply to keep up with the rising demand of a growing population, has many wide-ranging social and economic implications, almost all bad.

So, during party conference season, instead of fiddling about with plastic bag taxes, internal party funding and voting structures, how about some real political vision on a subject that really does affect all our lives?

Stefano Hatfield is editorial director of London Live

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

An unelectable extremist who hijacked their party has already served as prime minister – her name was Margaret Thatcher

Jacques Peretti

I don't blame parents who move to get their child into a good school

Chris Blackhurst
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent