September 13, 2012

Why Aren’t We Building Enough Attractive Homes? Myths, misunderstandings and solutions

Why Aren’t We Building Enough Attractive Homes recommends wholesale changes to the planning system. It points out that 2012 is currently on course to be the year with the second lowest annual level of new homes since World War II and a change of course is needed to be taken by the government to get Britain building.

The paper says that the argument often used by developers that there isn’t enough credit to build is false. Between 2000 and 2007 new lending doubled but all that happened was house prices and land prices soared – the number of new housing built barely rose.

It argues that the actual problem is that there is no real land market in England. Councils have absolute control over land use in their area via long and overly complex plans which consistently fail to release enough land for homes. Developers purchase land as it is released by councils for homes and ‘land bank’ without building many new homes because the land with planning permission rises in value. This explains why developers have hundreds of thousands of plots but haven’t built any new homes on them.

In the short term the report recommends self-build schemes, new urban developments near existing cities and Garden Cities supported by local people should be allowed outside of the existing planning system. The government should also reduce brownfield requirements to help regenerate existing cities to allow commercial land to become homes. For the long term it recommends pushing planning powers down to local people, giving them control over what development occurs near them.


Alex Morton

Head of Housing, Planning & Urban Policy, 2010-2013

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