Goldsmith Street winning the Stirling Prize shows that councils can lead the way in building more social housing
Goldsmith Street winning the Stirling Prize shows that councils can lead the way in building more social housing

Last night a significant moment in the history of social housing occurred. Goldsmith Street in Norwich became the first social housing project to win the RIBA’s Stirling Prize, the country’s most prestigious architecture award. The judges described Goldsmith Street as ‘a modest masterpiece’, while Guardian architecture and design critic Oliver Wainwright said: ‘This year’s choice sends a clear message that, despite government cuts, it is eminently possible for brave councils to take the initiative and build proper social housing.’… Read more

Planning for our future: how important is the planning system for social housing?
Planning for our future: how important is the planning system for social housing?

Few topics in housing prompt such a polarising range of responses as planning. For some, the planning system is an anathema, the single greatest barrier to solving our national housing emergency. For others, proper planning is the key to solving that housing emergency, the way that we guide development to ensure it works for local communities.

Shelter, it’s fair to say, sits closer to the second school of thought.

That’s not to say that we can’t see room for reform … Read more

A recipe for social housebuilding
A recipe for social housebuilding

With more than 270,000 people currently experiencing homelessness in England, we’re undoubtedly seeing the impact of 40 years of failure in housing policy. At the same time, house prices are far out of reach, leaving many young families trapped in expensive and insecure private rentals.

This is why, throughout 2018, Shelter led a Big Conversation to investigate what’s going wrong. We sought the views of the public, experts and social and private renters. Their input was analysed by an independent … Read more

We need a new generation of social rent homes
We need a new generation of social rent homes

Today, almost a year after we announced its launch on this blog, our commission on Social Housing delivers its final report: ‘Building for our Future: A Vision for Social Housing’.

This landmark report was put together by 16 independent commissioners, drawn from all walks of life and political persuasions. The commissioners were not a group of housing experts when they began this project, but every one of them brought experience, expertise and insight to this work. We cannot … Read more

Letwin identifies the problem but misses the solution
Letwin identifies the problem but misses the solution

One thing that probably won’t feature in today’s post-Budget headlines is the result of the Independent Review of Build Out undertaken by Sir Oliver Letwin.

While the report might not provide headlines, it does deserve recognition because it taps into a singularly vital part of our housing crisis: the cost of land. This means Letwin joins a growing group who recognise that only by bringing land into development at lower values can we unlock better, faster, more affordable development.

This … Read more

Another step towards land market reform
Another step towards land market reform

Two weeks ago, an unlikely coalition of around 20 organisations including charities, think tanks, and trade bodies came together to sign a joint letter calling on the government to address one of the biggest issues in housing: the urgent need to reform the 1961 Land Compensation Act.

On the face of it this may seem like a pretty dry issue, but as any avid reader of this blog in recent years will know, it is one that sits at the … Read more

Viability - winning here
Viability - winning here

Last week the government (finally) published the updated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). For us, the big test for this updated document was whether it closed the viability loophole.

The result – success. As Rose has explained already on this blog the new and improved viability system meets our tests of being:

fair; limited; transparent

While there is no doubt that the planning system in England still has some way to go before we can be sure that large … Read more

Rentquake – coming to a marginal seat near you?
Rentquake – coming to a marginal seat near you?

Could private renters decide the next election?

It’s a question recently raised by new Conservative think tank Onward. It highlighted that by the time of the next election, there will be 253 constituencies where more than 20% of voters are renters. That’s an increase from just 18 at the 2001 election.

We were far from surprised by this. Our own research shows that the numbers of renters is growing – and quickly. You can see what this looks like in Read more

Low expectations and little chance of winning – private renters need more support
Low expectations and little chance of winning – private renters need more support

Renters have been through too many years of hurt, it’s time things changed. Our new research shows private renters are having to spend a massive £41bn in rents per year.

For context, this is four times the amount the government spends on affordable housing.

And (since we’re all obviously in the midst of World Cup fever) this could even buy the England squad in about a week – or the Brazil squad in a little over that if you prefer.… Read more

No, lower land prices aren’t something to worry about
No, lower land prices aren’t something to worry about

Lowering the cost of land is a holy grail in trying to fix our housing crisis. Why? Because the high land prices that we see in our current speculative development system directly lead to less affordable housing, slow build-out and poor quality.

Recently, the Sunday Telegraph covered this issue with an article about a possible land price cap being introduced in the updated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). What the Sunday Telegraph talks about isn’t a land price cap as … Read more

Time to build on cross party support to end viability loophole and make housebuilding popular again

We’ve been talking about the viability loophole for a while now, but our new research has shone a light on just how much of a problem it is. Last week, we revealed England is losing thousands of potential affordable homes each year through this loophole in the planning rules.

Happily, both major political parties are already committed to ending the use and abuse of this loophole.

Shelter isn’t alone on this. Local councils and communities across the country are … Read more

Hundreds of affordable homes have been lost in Kensington and Chelsea: it’s time to shut the door on abuse of the viability process

Following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower the challenge of finding new homes for survivors has been thrown into the spotlight. A challenge that is exacerbated by the simple fact that in Kensington and Chelsea, as in areas across the country, there exists a huge shortage of affordable homes.

One reason for this is something regular readers of our blog will recognise: viability assessments.

Today we’ve released some new stats showing just how startling the problem in Kensington and Chelsea actually … Read more