One of the reasons the UK is failing to build the 300,000 homes per year we need is that whenever a proposal to build more homes is made, rural campaigners team up with established locals to form opposition to the plans. Time and time gain we hear the same dubious arguments made as to why they should not be built. Here is our guide to the most common objections to new homes and why the complaint has no merit.
1. 'They won't be affordable!!!'
The failure to build enough homes over the last 35 years is one of the main reasons housing has become so unaffordable. The longer we perpetuate this failure, the more rents and house prices will rise. We agree that developers must make reasonable contributions towards Affordable Housing and councils should be firm with them to ensure they don't shirk their responsibilities.
2. 'We must stop concreting over the countryside!!!'
Only 2.3% of our land surface is actually concreted over. We can easily meet the country's housing need while protecting our beautiful landscapes and keeping the overwhelming majority of our land green and pleasant.
3. 'It will cause traffic congestion!!!'
The spiralling cost of housing pushes workers away from where they work to more distant connurbations, leading to longer commutes and more congestion. Building more homes as close as possible to where people's jobs are means cutting commute times and makes cycling or mass public transport systems viable, instead of everybody cramming up trunk roads from dispersed locations.
4. 'Our schools/hospitals can't cope!!!'
Schools or hospitals need to keep up with population growth regardless of housebuilding. Even if you don't build a house, those children and those patients will still need to be catered for. Developments create the opportunity to build new public facilities within the newly built area.
5. 'Keep our area special!!!'
Our own community will always be special to us, but we must not mistake keeping an area special with keeping an area exclusive. Communities thrive when they have a healthy mix of people of all ages and all incomes. Ensuring that there are homes available to people from all walks of life will ensure that the special character of an area can be enjoyed by the many not the few.
6. 'What about all the empty homes?!!!'
We agree that every home should be lived in, however the scale of the empty homes problem has been over-exaggerated. Most so-called empty homes are only unoccupied for under 6 months and it is important for a functioning housing market that some properties become empty. It also matters where the empty homes are: an empty house in a town in one end of the country does nothing to meet the housing need at the other end of the country.
7. 'We should build on brownfield instead!!!'
We agree that brownfield should be redeveloped, however there simply isn't enough brownfield land to cope with all the housing need in the most unaffordable areas. Also bear in mind that not all brownfield is suitable for redevelopment - some brownfield sites are home to endangered wildlife, as opposed to farmland sprayed with pesticides so that the farmed crop is the only thing alive. We will need to use a mix of brownfield and greenfield sites to get the homes we need built.
8. 'Britain needs to grow more food!!!'
Britain has been a net importer of food for over 150 years, so the idea that we will ever become food self-sufficient is never going to be realistic. Millions of tons of food grown on our farms never makes it onto the shelves, which means that in fact a big oversupply of the food that can be grown in Britain.