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All solutions must be considered to alleviate housing crisis, says report

Words: Laura Edgar

Delivering Change: Building Homes Where We Need Them, a report by Centre for Cities, argues that the housing crisis in the UK will only be solved in high-demand cities in the long term by considering all solutions to free up land supply. 

This might include, the report suggests, increasing the density of existing communities and encouraging cities and neighbouring authorities to work together.

Delivering Change (pdf), sponsored by Barratt Developments and L&Q London Housing Association, suggests that land in cities and their surrounding areas - including parts designated as green belt - should be re-evaluated in a bid to tackle the crisis. Furthermore, it explains how cities and the government can work together to deliver more homes where they are needed as well as building better infrastructure between local homes, jobs and services.

Acting chief executive at Centre for Cities, Andrew Carter, said: “The enormous gap between housing market supply and demand in many of our most successful and productive cities – including Oxford, London, Cambridge and Bristol – is constraining local economies, and hampering their ability to drive national growth. It’s putting enormous cost-of-living pressures on the people who live there, as housing affordability plummets, and also businesses seeking to attract and retain quality staff.”

Delivering Change:

Least affordable cities in Great Britain

1. Oxford

2. London

3. Cambridge

4. Brighton

5. Bournemouth

6. Crawley

7. Aldershot

8. Reading

9. Bristol

10. Worthing

-       Recommends increasing density of existing cities by repurposing brownfield sites. In the 10 least-affordable cities this could deliver up to 425,000 new homes. The government should look at reforming the agenda so that local authorities can intervene and capitalise on these opportunities.

-       Calls for cities to work with neighbouring authorities to identify and deliver homes and infrastructure. This approach, however, will not be enough to address the lack of housing in the long term.

-       Urges everyone to consider and confront the need to build on well-connected green belt land within a 25-minute walk of train stations. Only 5.2 per cent of this land in the 10 least-affordable cities would need to be developed to deliver 1.4 million homes.

Carter explains that building garden cities and redeveloping brownfield sites forms part of the solution, but unless all options are considered, progress won’t be made. “The chronic housing shortage gripping many UK cities has serious and significant long-term implications for the national economy. It’s time for real political leadership at all levels of government, so we can finally move forward towards rectifying this, once and for all.”

David Montague, chief executive of L&Q, said: “Policy-makers and the general public need to join together in constructive dialogue to help decide how and where the rising demand for new homes can best be met. We welcome opportunities to stimulate the debate the nation needs to find the right solutions.”