A fork in the road: the Letwin review

In the pantheon of sexy retail offers, the promise of an internal government review does not, you might argue, necessarily set the pulse racing. So when a review of land banking was announced in the Autumn Budget, it wasn’t rewarded with huge media attention. Some world-weary cynics (not me, you understand) even wondered if it was just a way to kick the issue into the long grass.

But there’s every reason to pay attention to the review (which will … Read more

The high cost of viability assessments: 2,500 affordable homes lost in just one year

Over the last year, we’ve blogged many times about viability assessments, their role in cutting affordable homes, and the lack of transparency around how developers use them.

New research from Shelter shines a light on just how much damage this legal loophole is doing. Eleven councils covering nine English cities lost 2,500 affordable homes in just one year on schemes where developers used viability assessments. That’s equivalent to a 79% cut in desperately needed affordable homes to … Read more

Why are Grenfell survivors still living in hotels? The curious case of 100 West Cromwell Road

It’s now more than two months on from the Grenfell Tower fire, and many of those who survived this terrible event are still living in hotels, traumatised and without the basic comforts of home. Many survivors need time to grieve and recover before they can start to think about a permanent new place to live. But there’s no doubt that Kensington and Chelsea Council’s progress on identifying suitable accommodation, both temporary and permanent, has been far too slow for survivors.… Read more

Why should the Government improve land market transparency?

The lack of transparency in the land market is a serious barrier to building more homes in England. Shelter is calling on the Government to open up all land data held by the public sector, to let innovation flourish, allow the market to work more efficiently, and get more homes built.

All markets need good quality information to work efficiently. Without this, buyers don’t know what to bid for goods or services, and sellers don’t know what to ask. Poor … Read more

Starter Homes: an opportunity missed

Yesterday the Prime Minister went to Poole to launch a new starter homes scheme that will deliver 100,000 homes for purchase by first time buyers at 20% below the market value. Beneath this simple consumer-friendly message there is a complex scheme involving several different interventions and changes. In short, it’s half right – and half wrong.

On the positive side, the scheme is a very welcome sign that the government recognises the urgent need to build more homes, and to … Read more

One North …. Plus?

On Tuesday something strange happened. Everyone in politics agreed on something.

One North – a collection of five cities working together – put forward an ambitious proposal on how to improve transport connectivity, dubbed the “Crossrail of the North”.

George Osborne pledged support, stating he’d make the plans the centrepiece of his Autumn Statement. And Ed Balls welcomed the proposals too.

However, before everyone runs away with themselves I want to offer an amendment, an addition to the plans. Let’s … Read more

The question should now be about 'how' to get houses built

Shelter have long been campaigning for more houses. We need around 250,000 new homes per year to keep pace with the projected growth in households and even this doesn’t address the cumulative shortfall of past decades. Unfortunately, we are currently building around half of this. If this trend continues, prices will continue to grow at a fast pace putting a strain on families’ lives and budgets.

But the stage on from this is about how we get houses built. Earlier … Read more

Guest blog: CPRE on how to get homes built
Guest blog: CPRE on how to get homes built

Polling shows that most people agree there is a housing crisis. But nearly half don’t believe that new homes are needed in their local area. When opposition blocks local development, this limits the numbers of homes available for young people and families starting out, and holds back our economy.

New Shelter evidence reveals that the size of new homes is a major factor in local concerns about development. Nearly half (44%) of the public told us they were more likely … Read more

We need new homes. And some of them need to be in your back yard

We’ve been arguing for a while (since about 1966, in fact) that as a country we need to build more good quality affordable homes. Sadly, though, the last fifty years have in fact seen an almost continuous decline in the number of new homes being built.

But there are signs that there is an increasing appetite for this to change. At last year’s party conferences, David Cameron urged people to accept that ‘we need more homes in Britain’, … Read more

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

Is cash for communities enough to tackle NIMBYs?

It was with some gusto that Planning Minister Nick Boles launched the latest Government planning policy to incentivise new house building on Newsnight yesterday evening.

Agreeing with Shelter’s research findings that a key barrier in the planning system is often local opposition to new homes being built, Boles proposed that a proportion of money raised from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) when new developments are approved would go directly to local community groups to spend on infrastructure.

In practice this … Read more