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Housing Minister Declares New Housing Goal

Recently released figures have revealed that over the past four years, only 47% of all the needed housing in England has been built.

Responding to a BBC Inside Out investigation that revealed the scale of the housing crisis, the UK government has indicated that it wants a million new homes available in England by 2020.

According to the National Housing Federation, approximately 974,000 homes were required between 2011 and 2014, but 326 local councils have submitted figures indicating that only 457,490 were actually constructed.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis said that the government intended to see a million new homes built over the current Parliament, but Labour declared that the Tories has failed in their housing commitment goals.

National Housing Federation representatives said that 245,000 new houses were needed in England every year.

Gill Payne, director of policy and external affairs, pointed out that in certain regions of the country, the huge shortage causes property prices to shoot up and put home ownership beyond the reach of many people.

Among the factors being blamed for the situation are slow planning procedures and developers who let large tracts of empty land lie idle instead of building on it.

Changes were introduced to the National Planning Policy Framework in 2012, with the intention of simplifying the planning process. In 2014 around 240,000 planning applications received detailed permission, while in 2011 there were only 158,000.

Critics charge that these changes made it easier for unwanted and undesirable developments to proceed. They also claim that the increase could also be due to the lower application numbers in the wake of the 2008 crash.

Homelessness charity Shelter said that a shortage of land contributed to the problem, and developers who build slowly are coming under fire.

Matthew Pointon, Capital Economics property economist, said that by keeping the number of available new builds low, their prices can be increased. Earlier this year he told the BBC that building homes more slowly means that the developers can maximise their value.

 

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Other factors contributing to the problem include a shortage of skilled labour, fewer councils building new homes, and regulations that restrict housing associations.

University of Nottingham academics predict that in the future, homes will be a combination of energy-efficient village skyscrapers and low-profile pack houses, all of which have the capability to solve the housing crisis.

Mr Lewis said that his goal was to make it easier to develop, particularly on brownfield sites. He suggested that additional adjustments made to planning rules would help councils determine applications more quickly.

He added that schemes such as Help to Buy should make developers confident that the homes they build will be sold.

According to estimates from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, there are enough brownfield sites to support 1.8 million new homes.

Ms Payne said that the federation wanted more output from housing associations. She pointed out that in 2014 housing associations built 50,000 properties, which accounts for 40% of all new homes across England, and they have expressed interest in working with the government to greatly increase build totals.

Campbell Robb, Shelter chief executive, added that the time for another great statement of ambition is past. To give ordinary UK families hope that they might own a home one day, there needs to be a detailed plan and the financial investment needed to get these properties built.

 

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