Let councils build – and borrow

Many voices – including Shelter’s – have been plugging the economic benefits of getting housebuilding, but two things are new about the current burst of pre-budget clamour.

Firstly, the breadth, and seniority, of the voices demanding investment has reached a new level. When the CBI, the Chambers of Commerce, a former Thatcher Government Cabinet member and even the Secretary of State for Business are all saying the same thing, all it needs now to complete the set is … Read more

We want economic growth, so how about more homes?

You might have missed Nick Clegg’s announcement on the next wave of city deals: apparently all twenty cities that applied for a city deal will now enter talks with the Government ‘on a staggered basis’, to ‘negotiate deals that give them the levers and powers they need to drive economic growth.’

OK, so this may not constitute a revolution in civic leadership, but Clegg’s convolutions do reveal an interesting tension within central government: they’re desperate to drive economic growth, but … Read more

Clegg's on the right track, but what will make garden cities work?

Nick Clegg’s speech to the National House-Builders Council (NHBC) today sends the strongest signal yet that Government are beginning to take the challenge of our housing crisis seriously.

September’s growth ‘package’ was a step forward, but the proposed numbers of new homes were not sufficient. Today, Mr Clegg acknowledges the scale of home building needed, talking in hundreds – rather than tens – of thousands.

The notion of garden cities seems to be playing well. I can see why – … Read more

Better homes for those living in them, and those looking at them

Today, RIBA’s Future Homes Commission calls for a revolution in the scale, quality and funding of home-building to fix our broken housing market.

The report’s central recommendation is for a three-fold increase in the number of new homes built every year to over 300,000, kick-started by a £10bn Local Housing Development Fund, which would be financed and owned in turn by local authority pension funds.

Just as importantly, they want the homes built in well-designed sustainable communities of mixed-tenure homes.… Read more

Labour: getting noisier on housing

It’s now five years since I first attended party conferences for my job, and I’ve noted some quite different atmospheres over the years.

The 2009 party conferences were the most striking: the quietly confident Conservative conference where champagne was strictly off limits, Labour’s failed coups and sense of impending downfall, and the pre-Cleggmania stoicism at Lib Dems. All this with the backdrop of the MPs’ expense scandal rumbling on.

Fast forward to 2012 and it’s quite a different … Read more

Why the UK isn’t Spain…

Sure, sure we’re not as good at football or sunny weather as our Iberian neighbours. Here, I’ll argue that our property markets are pretty different too, and that the Spanish example of a devastating property meltdown, partly precipitated by over-building, shouldn’t put us off building more badly needed homes in this country.

We need more homes. That’s not a totally straightforward statement – yes there are some empty homes that could be better used, and no, more homes alone … Read more

Back to school: the new political season

September – chillier, windier, busier – is traditionally a time for a refresh. Having had the summer to reflect on how things have gone, our politicians traditionally use the return to Parliament to set out a rejuvenated course for the coming months. Summer 2012 was exceptional in every sense, and the Prime Minister used the moment to really shake up his ministerial teams.

It’s all change for housing policy. Our new team of ministers have been in post for a … Read more

Time to talk legacy?

There’s bound to be some stiff competition to get into Private Eye’s Olympicballs column this week – but let’s give it a go….

It’s still unfashionable to be sceptical about the likelihood of a legacy for the games, but let’s not forget that the original vision behind London’s bid for the Olympics was about regenerating a huge swathe of the ex-industrial east end, and providing tonnes of new homes in shiny new neighbourhoods.

So as the celebrations finish and … Read more

Build-to-let: just the tonic?

Over the last few months the Government has begun to take quite seriously some of the realities of England’s housing crisis that we have been banging on about for years:

We simply don’t have enough homes – we desperately need to build more. More and more people are renting privately for the long term – not through some fleeting lifestyle choice, but because buying a home is just too expensive. Building homes is good for the economy and for creating… Read more
What homes where?

Getting homes built is a tricky business. The new National Planning Policy Framework encourages local based planning (rather than top down regional spatial strategies) and more local community engagement on plans and holding councils to account. A big concern is how to deal with local opposition to any new development plans. That’s a lot for local councils to take on at a time of severe cuts to their budgets, along with imminent decisions on who gets affordable housing and for … Read more

Appetite for construction

I blogged recently about the need for ambitious ideas to tackle our housing shortage and the IPPR has duly obliged, today publishing a comprehensive analysis of British housing policy. Our excellent guest blogger – Matt Griffith – gives his take on the new report.

Matt Griffith is a campaigner for PricedOut.   

Good news, housing is getting some serious attention. The, not so subtle, question being ‘how the hell do we get out of this mess?’

It’s a question that … Read more

A time for ambitious thinking?

As a new joiner to Shelter’s policy team I’ve already been introduced to some interesting ideas about how we can make housing more affordable, better quality and get a better deal for the growing numbers of private tenants. The policy team is not short of solutions to the many failings of our housing market – as the many postings on this blog prove.

I’ve recently moved across from a political office, which included working on some manifesto ideas for London’s … Read more