Today Teresa May announced plans to penalise property developers who receive the permission to build but do not do so quickly enough, calling for them to provide more affordable housing and to “do their duty to Britain”.
While the PM focussed on the lack of affordable housing and the plight of the latest generation to be priced out of homeownership, she didn’t believe the answer lays in the Green Belt, highlighting its need to serve a valuable and specific purpose and to prevent urban sprawls.
Although this may be the case to some extent, a large deal of the nation’s Green Belt has been wrongly classified and could be put to better use, although May did promise to do more with existing brown field sites.
A number of other initiatives were expected to be unveiled, including the creation of five new towns between Oxford and Cambridge, improved transport infrastructure between the two, a tougher line with councils failing to build due to NIMBY pressure and encouragement to build upwards in cities.
However, these were largely glossed over for the usual mix of empty rhetoric about the need to build and other dreams of affordable homeownership and it is a story we are all too familiar with.
Property expert and our very own CEO, Russell Quirk, believes that the Government’s failure to deliver their aspirations of 300,000 homes a year could become their downfall at the next election and these announcements have come with this in mind.
While the Government’s struggle to build enough affordable homes has kept them in favour with UK homeowners who continue to get richer as a result, these voters are also getting older and inevitably will diminish in volume.
The Conservatives managed just 187,000 of the 300,000 homes pledged last year and even that’s up on previous years.
If they continue along this path of failure where the younger generation is concerned, they run the risk of finally losing out to Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘young populism’ at the next General Election.
It is unlikely that anything will come of the latest in a long line of bold promises, but it should.
For too long the developers charged with building our homes have held us to ransom by land banking.
At the same time, local councillors under pressure from NIMBYs across the nation would rather protect their own seat then take steps to solve the crisis on a local level.
While no one wants to be put on the naughty step, it is about time we take the democracy out of the home building process and penalise those who don’t take the necessary action required to help solve it.Russell Quirk
Here at Emoov, we have previously and repeatedly been critical of these failures and has set out suggestions to help fix the death of housing supply including:
-Reclassifying the not-so-green bits of the green belt for development. 1% of green belt built upon would equal 600,000 new homes
-Mandating that local authorities and central government departments identify their own available land for building upon – they currently sit on 180,000 land assets
-Encouraging developers to build more of their land bank through tax breaks and incentives
-The formation of a housing developer owned by the taxpayer and run like a private house builder and tasked with constructing homes on public land unfettered by long-term profit targets
-The removal of ‘too much democracy’ from local planning decisions given the influence that NIMBYs have on elected councillors fearful of re-election and which I saw first-hand as Chairman of Planning at Brentwood Council. (In this it seems that Govt now accords, given this week’s announcements)