The crisis could be solved with a “Civic Housebuilding” schemeby Catharine Banks / March 13, 2017 / Leave a comment
By the government’s own admission, the housing market is broken. It isn’t building enough homes—and those that are being built are often unaffordable and poor quality.
New research from Shelter shows that eight out of ten working families who are renting privately cannot afford a newly built home in their area, even with Help to Buy.
Not only are these homes out of reach of normal families; further Shelter research conducted with YouGov showed that half of new home owners have experienced major problems with their properties; including with construction, unfinished fittings and faults with the utilities. The ongoing Bovis Homes scandal bears out these findings.
But these problems can all be tackled—if a sensible, civic-minded solution is pursued.
Britain’s housing crisis is systemic: our main way of building homes has evolved over time to benefit landowners and speculative developers, whilst families and communities pay the price. There are no moustache twirling villains here (generally speaking), just some serious winners and serious losers from a completely clapped out system of housebuilding.
This reliance on a “speculative” model of housebuilding is particularly concerning. This means developers compete against each other to offer the highest price for land, which inevitably drives up the price of the homes they build.
The upshot of this speculative frenzy over land is that developers have to cut corners, ensuring they cover their costs and make good returns. This often results in unaffordable, low quality homes that don’t meet the needs of local people.
And to be clear—it’s not just people trying to find a new home who lose out, it’s existing homeowners and communities too.
Our planning system asks developers to contribute towards local roads, schools and general infrastructure when they build new homes in an area, in order to help sustain it. But once they’ve paid an astronomical amount for the land, these facilities can be argued to be “unviable,” so are dropped from the plans and the local authority has next to no real power to enforce them.
In short, it means the deal which gets struck works out for the developer, works out big time for the landowner, but fails the local community.
This also creates the ideal environment for NIMBYism—and who…