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 to support new housing developments if the homes were larger. The Government is currently reviewing housing standards – presenting a great opportunity to establish space clear standards for all new homes.
Our guest blogger, Fiona Howie of the Campaign for Protection of Rural England, argues that by addressing the quality and design of new homes, the Government can remove a barrier to housing development and get Britain building.
Fiona Howie, Head of Planning at CPRE
It is right that local people have a say in what happens where they live. The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England has long argued that communities should be able to play a central role in shaping the future of their local area, and this is why we encourage people to engage with the development of local plans. So local people play a central role in getting to grips with the chronic housing shortage.
Opposition to local house-building can certainly prevent them from being built. As Shelter’s report, Little boxes, fewer homes, highlights, by listening and responding to people’s legitimate concerns about new developments a barrier can be removed from building necessary new homes. Often these concerns might be about the scale or location of a development and its potential impact on the existing community. But people also have concerns in relation to the quality of proposed development.
As the report highlights, 73% of people would support housing developments if homes were better designed and in keeping with the local area. This is great news, and should inform the approach we take to getting homes built.
While we can and will encourage communities to engage constructively with shaping their local area and seek to address the housing shortage, the house builders also need to step up and play their part.
Builders are of course the ones delivering the houses which are the smallest in Western Europe. The National New Homes Survey, undertaken by NHBC and published in March 2013, found that 91% of people said they were satisfied with the quality of their new house. It seems that they are getting away with delivering small, unattractive houses. So how do we go about making sure that developers look beyond the simple economics of maximising profits by squeezing the highest number of small houses with the lowest possible build costs onto a site?
Protecting our precious and beautiful English countryside may seem like a frivolous concern when we are talking about how to house people, but we can build houses while also respecting our natural heritage by building sensibly and intelligently. This often means building homes on previously developed land: it’s where infrastructure already exists; where peoples’ jobs are; and tends to be where people mostly socialise and shop.
The Government’s attempts to revive house building by weakening planning is not working and won’t deliver higher quality housing that meets local needs. We are not arguing for ‘town cramming’: building at higher densities doesn’t mean putting up high rise tower blocks. With good design and innovation, backed by minimum standards, such as on space, we can deliver family housing, and begin the long but vital job of providing more high quality, affordable homes.