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4th January 2017

We need more reasonably priced houses for our families. Just not where I walk my dog!

Most of us agree that there is a need for more realistically priced houses for our families, yet we’d also like them built somewhere else so that they don’t affect where we walk our dogs or ride our bikes.

With the Government on track to miss its promised ‘million homes’ target and the proportion of 25-year-olds who own their own home slumping from  almost half 20 years ago to just a fifth, there is no doubting that we need more reasonably priced homes in the UK. In fact Daniel Bentley, editorial director at think tank Civitas, said: “Nationally, the supply of new homes is currently running at about four-fifths of what it would need to be just to keep up with the needs of current rates of population growth.”

Ministers are due to publish the latest housing white paper later this month setting out their plans. Yet how many of us want the new homes that we need for our families built on the hinterland of our towns and villages where we walk our dogs or ride our bikes?

Analysis of local housebuilding figures by Civitas follows on from a calculation by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) show that the Government’s policies in the Autumn Statement may in fact slow housebuilding and further propose that Britain’s housing shortage is being exacerbated by homes being built in the wrong place, with construction rates being low in areas that were set to experience the highest growth in the coming years.

Of the 30 fastest growing council areas outside London, 21 are experiencing housebuilding output below the national average. Figures suggest that South-eastern areas such as Watford, Thanet, Canterbury and Epping are among those where housebuilding is well under half the required rate to even meet current expected demand.

The problem is even more serious in the capital. Of the 32 London boroughs, only three – the City of London, Kensington and Chelsea, and Wandsworth – are currently increasing their housing supply by more than their expected population growth over the coming decades.

High growth areas, in particular the home counties, are being starved of the homes they need by an array of factors, including greenbelt restrictions, ultra-high land values and the current housebuilding model.

But these problems are not restricted to the buy-to-live sector. A study for the Local Government Association (LGA) found there had also been an 88% drop in the number of social rented homes since 1995/96. They have called for ministers to give councils greater powers to boost house building and take steps to ensure an increase in the number of suitable properties available for older residents. LGA housing spokesman Martin Tett said: “There is no silver bullet and everyone must come together to meet the diverse housing needs in our villages, towns and cities.”

Rix & Kay’s own planning law specialist, Oliver Bussell, who trained and practiced in the commercial sector, then worked in-house for Kent County Council added: “Planning is an ever-changing area of law with constantly evolving policy and legislation.”

For more information on any of the above please contact one of our team on 01825 761555 or email enquiries@rixandkay.co.uk.

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