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The Government is sure it wishes to see more new houses built but seems far less sure how this is to be done

We all agree that we need more new homes to meet the demands of household formation and that new homes generate economic growth by an ‘accelerator effect’ well known to economists.

 

There is however the assumption that more new homes must mean vast areas of our finest green belt land being built on with sixties style housing estates, without character or identity that destroy the towns that they so dismally extend. No wonder the response is "not in my back yard."

 

The deputy Prime Minister exhorts we need 50,000 more new homes. The Planning Minister seems to feel that if these homes looked as beautiful as Stamford we would all be happier. The business secretary has spoken of the need for infrastructure to serve such homes. Well yes this is surely true, but this says nothing about how we actually do it.

 

The real housing need is in our cities and particularly in London. It is for low cost accommodation. The type of housing we need is on low cost land that will inevitably be on the outskirts of the city. Land that is specifically designated for this use and no other. Housing designed to utilise "common denominators" that reduce building cost and where infrastructure already exists.

 

Such housing will involve higher densities and sacrifice some urban open space. It will involve some encroachment onto surrounding green belt, to resist this would sterilise many opportunities. It will inevitably put pressure on infrastructure in these areas. These are sacrifices we have to be prepared to make for new homes.

 

It will not however be a wholesale invasion of the finest Green Belt.

 

This housing will not happen  until the Government  cuts  Red tape and Regulation from our Planning Authorities and takes measures’ to strip out private restrictions over the development of land that are deemed obsolete. We cannot spend months discussing community contributions for sites that so very clearly will be unviable under such tariffs. We cannot tolerate endless conditions attached to planning consents and should only allow those that can be written off without further planning applications. We must have building codes that all developers understand without the need for extensive consultations and calculations. We must take a far more realistic view of development where ecology and archaeological issues are identified and acknowledge housing as paramount. Those entrusted to make decisions should make them, or hand over the process.

 

The great benefit in quashing red tape is that thousands of small sites would be released for development as they would become viable for development. This would be an instant benefit that will never be achieved from far fetched romantic visions about new Cities. The benefits are there for society now. 

 

I feel that we know what to do. Will we now do what we know?

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