It’s common knowledge that we’re not building enough new properties.
Underplayed by the mainstream parties, the UK housing crisis might not have made it into the news in the run-up to June’s election.
Terrorist attacks in London and Manchester took attention away from some of the issues both Government and Opposition had described as critical just months before. Much of the media also centred coverage on personalities, the things they said – or failed to say – in their attempt to win votes.
But a recent report compiled by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) brings some of the issues back into sharp focus – and, yet again, raises the question of whether key decisions on housing policy are being made in the right place by the right people.
Building Us Up – And Knocking Us Down
It’s common knowledge that we’re not building enough new properties to keep pace with demand – one of the factors driving the price of the average starter home out of reach of the average first-time buyer without access to the Bank of Mum and Dad.
We’re also probably aware the lack of stock has led to councils coming under pressure to approve applications for new homes where they might not normally have been built – some even on the Green Belt.
But the research by the CPRE has established, of those new properties approved to help meet housing demand, few could be described as fitting into the “affordable” bracket. Indeed, 70% of them are likely to be three or four-bedroom executive homes – perhaps even bigger – because that’s how developers get the best return on their investment.
In other words, the UK’s countryside is being sacrificed for little or no benefit. (http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/concern-at-prices-of-homes-on-green-belt-sites-1-8627453)
Of course, plenty would argue there’s nothing wrong with making a profit. But, at the end of the day, who ends up better off? Will it be our kids, facing a lifetime spending two thirds of their income on rent or will it be the directors and shareholders of the development giants – the sort of folk probably already happily ensconced in their four-bedroom house with the requisite number of BMWs on the drive?
But this isn’t meant to be a political tirade; in fact, far from it. It shouldn’t really matter which way you vote to see that something simply isn’t working when it comes to property in the UK. Decades of little or no direction have got us to where we are now and, despite occasional fine words from Westminster, we’re no closer to a solution than we were under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown or David Cameron.
The Mouse That Roared?
What we need is vision, purpose, commitment to a specific direction and a long-term strategy – and one which lasts longer than any Government’s five-year term.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: we’re convinced only an independent housing commission can give us that. We’re one small voice right now but, who knows. One day, with your support, we could be the mouse that roared …