How do we grow our successful cities?

1,590 new jobs, just 146 new homes.

That’s been the average for Oxford each year since the 2007/08 recession. It’s a similar story in Bristol, Cambridge and York – together the four ‘Growing Cities’ that we looked at in our new report with the IPPR.

They are all examples of successful city-economies which are internationally competitive, creating jobs in tech, medicine, advanced manufacturing and professional services. But they also have dismal records for house building compared to what they … Read more

Can the new Right to Buy reverse falling home ownership?

There are lots of practical problems with the new Right to Buy for housing associations, which is rapidly becoming the billy no-mates of housing policy.

However the policy is aiming to address a very real problem: the decline in home-ownership which has now been falling for over a decade. If that trend isn’t reversed, David Cameron will be the first Conservative PM since Neville Chamberlain to preside over a fall in the proportion who own their home.

Households aged 25-34, Read more

Getting the most out of land

In an excellent new research note for Savills, the housing market expert Neal Hudson explains why anyone who cares about building affordable homes needs to care about the stuff under our feet:

“Land is the fundamental ingredient in the construction of new homes. Many of the issues limiting the rate of new home building can be traced back to the pricing and availability of land for residential development.”

In short: land is really expensive and that’s making it hard … Read more

Our campaign won’t end until the housing crisis does

Throughout the run-up to the general election, Shelter campaigned for the incoming government to build more genuinely affordable homes. We’ve travelled up and down the country to collect petition signatures and along the way have heard heart breaking stories from people who’ve been affected by the housing crisis.

Two of those people are Lou and Natalie, who handed in our petition in to Number 10 Downing Street yesterday. They’re both mothers who have experienced homelessness and terrible renting conditions. After … Read more

Homes for Londoners

Barely a week after the polls closed in the general election, England’s next major political race – to be the new Mayor of London – is already hotting up. Several candidates have formally declared their intention, or hinted at a strong interest in running for their party’s nomination including Ivan Massow and Stephen Greenhalgh for the Conservatives and Sadiq Khan, Diane Abbott, Gareth Thomas and David Lammy for Labour.

What’s clear already is that housing will be the issue that … Read more

England's cities: future home builders?

As the dust settles on the election, it is clear that a major priority for George Osborne and David Cameron will be giving greater power to England’s cities. As the Chancellor said yesterday:

“We will hand power from the centre to cities to give you greater control over your local transport, housing, skills and healthcare. And we’ll give the levers you need to grow your local economy and make sure local people keep the rewards.”

This is an exciting, … Read more

What the budget should have said

Another budget, another missed opportunity to build the homes we need.

Housing was once again prominent – just as it was when Help to Buy was launched in 2013 or Stamp Duty cut in 2014 – but the main policy announced was yet another gimmicky scheme not even close to facing up to what’s needed. Instead of bold plans to build affordable homes, we had more government cash to prop up high house prices.

What really frustrated me yesterday was … Read more

Starter Homes: giving with one hand...

Update 04/02/2015:

Inside Housing are reporting that Starter Homes will count as “affordable housing” and can therefore directly replace social housing or shared ownership homes on planned developments. This is extremely concerning if true.

New ‘Starter Homes’ will cost up to £450,000 in London and £250,000 outside, which is 11.5 times the average full-time London salary and 9 times the average full-time English salary. While there is clearly a need for more homes at all prices – and for priced … Read more

Who should pay for affordable homes?

Any regular readers of this blog will know that we need to build many more homes in England, especially more genuinely affordable homes. The need for these homes can’t be ducked any longer. However, there is a pressing question: who should pay for tens of thousands more affordable homes at a time of squeezed budgets?

As well as the need for government to prioritise investment in affordable housing (we say an extra £1.2bn per year), and the need to … Read more

Giving with one hand, taking with the other

I’m genuinely torn on the government’s new house building policy: 100,000 Starter Homes for first time buyers, each sold with a 20% discount.

On the one hand, I think it’s great that the policy uses a zoning power to make land available more cheaply to build much needed homes. We’ve been advocating something similar as part of a much broader house building programme. It’s also great that the policy helps priced-out first time buyers with a very substantial 20% … Read more

Let's all blame planning

We know we don’t build nearly enough new homes in England, but why is that? One commonly made argument is that it is primarily the fault of the state, which controls and limits the use of the most important raw material in house building: land.

This is how the argument often goes. The house building industry would be able to build the homes we need if only there were a true free market in land use. In other words, if … Read more

3 tests for Bicester Garden Town

Over the last few years a huge momentum has built up behind the idea of building a new generation of garden cities. Political and business leaders have backed them, with Nick Clegg, for example, having argued for a “new generation” of ten garden cities. Today, the government made its pitch for a new 13,000 home “garden town” at Bicester in Oxfordshire.

The proposal itself is too small to be a garden city in its own right. It even fails the … Read more