Report tips top 10 cities to boost UK's housing supply
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Development, Finance
Three million new homes plan 'not winning public support'
A new report has tipped the top ten UK cities where funds aimed at kick-starting housing delivery could be best used to unlock economic growth immediately - through a much needed boost to housing supply.
Centre for Cities' (CFC) Cities Outlook 2013 report placed Oxford at the top of its list, where there are currently 385 stalled sites. London, which came second in the list, has an incredible 101,745 stalled sites.
With the UK building around 100,000 fewer homes a year than is needed to keep up with demand, CFC says that current government forecasts suggest 232,000 new homes should be built per year to keep up with projected household growth.
CFC says that successive government's housing policies have meant that this figure has only been exceeded once in the last 30 years.
The report, which was sponsored by the Local Government Association, concludes that areas must be given the flexibility to use their funding for locally driven solutions to housing shortages which differ from place to place, rather than nationally prescribed policies. While some areas are ripe for investment to kick-start housebuilding, others would benefit more from money being spent improving existing homes.
The report also claims that the best opportunity to meet housing numbers and deliver the injection of economic growth that the UK needs in the short term is to kick-start housing schemes that have secured planning permission but stalled during development phase.
Policies to achieve this could be focused on areas where economic growth is strong, demand for housing is high, and affordability is constrained.
According to CFC, this approach offers a real chance for national growth. The research indicates that by delivering these additional 100,000 homes in the year ahead, the employment of up to 150,000 people, including up to 90,000 low skilled positions, could be supported, as well as providing a 1% boost to the national economy.
The research also highlights that not every area of every city needs or can deliver new homes. For some cities the condition of their local housing stock is a much more pressing challenge. In these places, residents would benefit more from a different approach. Rather than encouraging the building of new homes, regardless of local housing requirements, cities should be supported by policies and funding that incentivises the right measures to address local housing issues including retrofitting and reconfiguration of existing homes.
Alexandra Jones, CFC's chief executive, said: "This year’s Cities Outlook shows that the housing crisis is one of the most pressing challenges facing the UK’s economy and it can only be addressed if we put place back into national housing policy. Cities must have the freedoms and flexibilities to make decisions about housing policy based on local circumstances. For some cities, lack of housing prevents people accessing jobs or means they are stuck in cramped accommodation. In other cities, incentives to retrofit empty houses could improve local quality of life. Both approaches, adapted to local needs, would generate the jobs and growth the UK needs.
"Cities Outlook 2013 shows that future economic growth will depend on making the most of the untapped potential in UK cities. Policy that can adapt to local needs and greater devolution of powers and funding to cities could be the recipe that the UK economy needs to get back to sustained economic growth."
Cllr Mike Jones, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Environment and Housing Board, said: "Tackling the housing shortage is one of the key challenges facing the country today. As this independent research recognises, housing issues vary from area to area which make it crucial that those areas have flexibility to tailor solutions to local circumstances.
"In any given area there’s an intrinsic link between the availability of housing and issues like levels of employment, availability of skills training and the state of infrastructure like roads and railways which attract business and generate jobs. It makes no sense to deal with each of these issues in isolation. Local authorities in every part of the country need the flexibility to address local issues in a joined up way.
"Councils are working with developers to provide more new homes for people but if government released local authorities from some of the restrictions it imposes on them, they could do so much more. If government scrapped the unnecessary cap it has placed on the amount councils can borrow to invest in housing, local authorities could build 60,000 homes and invest more in bringing existing properties up to scratch."