Editorial: Solving the housing crisis has to be the priority

Defenders of the countryside are alarmed by the idea from the new Planning minister, Nick Boles, that we should build over another three per cent of open land in the next 20 years. Yet, with five million people on housing waiting lists, we need a debate over how much more housing is needed and where.

The Green Belt is not unalterably sacrosanct. But Mr Boles, an enthusiast for liberalising planning regulations, should first turn his attention to brownfield sites, which offer space for 1.5 million more homes. He must look at the 710,000 dwellings which are lying unoccupied. And he should consider substantial increases in taxes on second homes.

But accelerating the tardy rate of house-building, which has been one of the greatest policy failures in recent decades, offers one of the quickest routes to boosting economic growth. This is not a time for excessive Nimbyism.

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