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18/09/2020

Homebuilders detail community losses from Covid-19 development standstill

Words: Huw Morris
Housebuilding / iStock-889654612

Almost 40,000 fewer homes were built in England and Wales during the second quarter of this year due to the Covid-19 crisis, according to the Home Builders Federation (HBF).

The industry body said government figures show a “staggering decline” in housing development. Between March and June, 30,394 homes were built compared with the second quarter of 2019 figure of 69,100, a fall of 38,700.

“These figures also highlight the wider impact for local communities given the subsequent loss of local contributions and community benefits that come with the development of new homes,” it added.

According to HBF research, developers have made contributions through section 106 agreements and other mechanisms of more than £7 billion in the past year.
In education, enough money had been raised from contributions to recruit 8,500 teachers, in green spaces to plant 8.6 million trees and build 25,000 miles of road or fill 53 million potholes through council tax.

The industry body called for contributions that cannot be spent on their intended purpose to be returned directly to the relevant community, not the developer.

It also calls for a public badging scheme which would label community assets that housebuilders have funded through a blue plaque or sign. It said such a move would raise awareness of housebuilders’ contributions to communities after a YouGov poll revealed 73 per cent of respondents associated a housing development with increased pressure on facilities and services.
“Coronavirus resulted in the closure of housebuilding sites and so inevitably output this year will fall,” said HBF chairman Stewart Baseley. “As well as undermining progress made in recent years to reduce our housing shortfall, this will reduce the huge contribution development makes to community infrastructure and local economies.”

Image credit | iStock

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