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Ignorance fuels housing crisis, claims research

Words: Laura Edgar

The British public’s lack of understanding is exacerbating the housing crisis, says planning consultancy Iceni Projects.

Following responses to research it undertook, the consultancy is calling on the property industry and government to raise public awareness of planning legislation and housing policies.

Conducted by ComRes on behalf of Iceni, the study considers 2,069 responses from British adults to a survey carried out between 17 and 18 December, 2014.

Of those people surveyed, Iceni found that 60 per cent could not correctly define the green belt, while a third believed that building on green belt land is prohibited. Additionally, almost 90 per cent of those questioned had either no knowledge of - or did not understand - the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Andrew Gale, director of Iceni, said the research shows there is “a fundamental lack of understanding on key issues of planning policy, such as a misunderstanding that green belt must always be green”. 

He added that people's lack of knowledge about housing policy in their area is “having a major impact on the industry’s ability to deliver much-needed housing and commercial space”.

The survey also reveals that more than half of those asked oppose building on green belt - despite 60 per cent not knowing what it is.

Gale said: “It is a grey area across communities in the UK, and we believe these serious misconceptions are a barrier to investment and growth. If the industry is to make any headway in narrowing the housing gap and delivering the facilities required to keep the UK a competitive economy, we need to take urgent action to educate and inform the public.”

Iceni says 68 per cent of respondents want it to be easier to get involved in the planning process, with 77 per cent not knowing how to get involved.

“We are therefore urging the government and industry to follow suit and ensure that important decisions on new developments are made on the basis of a clear understanding of planning terminology,” concluded Gale.