Archive for March, 2013

Build, build, build – in the right places

I had a letter in Friday’s Guardian calling for more public investment in housing:

Zoe Williams is right: if politicians want to address the country’s housing crisis, they must build more homes (Let’s build more homes – who wouldn’t vote for that?, 7 March). As it is, the government’s only serious remedy is to weaken the planning system and hope that the private sector does the job. It won’t. Developers’ profits and land banks are growing, but there is no evidence that they will build good-quality new homes on the scale needed. They certainly will not do so while the economy remains in the doldrums.

For 30 years after the war, the public sector built at least 130,000 houses a year in England, accounting for over half the new homes built. Since 1979, relatively little public housing has been built and there has been no significant growth in private sector house building to compensate. Bashing the planning system and arm-twisting local authorities to release rural land for housing will not alter that.

No one is suggesting a return to mass council housing, but if the government really wants more houses, it must find a way to build them. And if it commits to high standards of design and quality, and to well-planned new developments largely within existing towns and cities rather than sprawling into the countryside, it will find it much easier to get local consent. Continue reading ‘Build, build, build – in the right places’