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Town and Country planning associated publish their analysis of UK 2011 Census

The Town and Country planning Association have last month published their analysis of the UK 2011 census. It must come as no surprise that housing need continues to significantly outstrip housing supply. 
The Cambridge University Centre for Planning Research estimates housing requirements of 240,000 new homes each year. Last year we built 128,160. TCPA chief executive Kate Henderson speaks of a ‘’hopelessly inadequate supply’’ coupled with a huge affordability problem.
There is a consensus for more new housing to be built. What is missing is an agreement to a strategy to achieve this.
Ed Miliband identifies House builders as the problem accusing them of holding on to land to gain value. He threatens to confiscate sites that are not built on. This is not the answer. Developers’ consented land banks are the work in progress of housing supply. To threaten this is to create more delay.
Vince Cable suggested taxing large homes to subsidise affordable housing. These large homes are often those occupied by extended families. They are helping to provide housing for young adults excluded from Housing benefit. Mansion tax would not only distort markets but tax cheap accommodation for single people.
Nick Boles seems keen to release green belt land for development as long as it is looks like Stamford. The problem with green belt release is the time taken to achieve such development and the cost of its infrastructure. Green belt should not be sacrosanct, but it cannot alone respond to our urgent housing need. Land release around urban areas where there is existing infrastructure might be a better response. 
HBF director John Stewart identifies the plan led planning as the cause of low supply. We cannot tolerate local planning authorities that defend plans for limited numbers of homes when neighbouring authorities are desperate to house families. Neither can we allow planning authorities to impose planning conditions that add cost and delay.
While building more new homes will curb house price rises, we have to plan these houses to be affordable. One third of new housing need requires subsidy. The nation’s Housing benefit bill is rising not withstanding Government commitment to limit its levels. What is needed is to reduce land values and to build at low construction costs, so that these can be bought with a capital grant allowing low rents and reduced housing benefit.
We must build to greater densities, higher buildings and smaller homes. The RIBA‘s quest for minimum size new homes is to increase costs and restrict the opportunity of a new home for many single people. Our ambitions for zero carbon homes also increases costs of new homes when we should be reducing costs.
We should think again about Community Infrastructure Levy to ensure that it does not hinder progress. High tax levels are self-defeating, as they prevent development resulting in our maintaining obsolete dysfunctional accommodation where new homes could be built.
Let us have a coordinated strategy that recognises the urgent need to address housing supply and affordability.

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