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.
The Conservatives were elected on a promise to "double the number of first-time buyers". Our analysis shows the government must reach 600,000 first-time buyers per year by 2020 to fulfil their promise. As the Conservatives seek to present themselves as 'the party of homeownership', they must take radical action to meet the aspirations of first-time buyers.Read more
Commenting on the announcement of withdrawal of tax relief on buy-to-let mortgage interest for higher-rate income taxpayers, Duncan Stott, director of affordable house price campaign PricedOut, said:
"For too long, buy-to-let landlords have been using an unfair tax break to outcompete first-time buyers and drive house prices further out of reach. This reform will be warmly welcomed by working people who aspire to own their own home instead of paying rent to fund their buy-to-let landlord's mortgage.
"For the Conservatives to be pro-homeownership, it means they must take action against buy-to-let. We hope this excellent move to bring fairness to mortgage taxation will be just the beginning of the reforms needed to get the housing market into a fit shape for first-time buyers."Read more
3.8m private renters are unable to afford the average first home, new analysis from PricedOut finds today.
The figure includes 1.26m private renters who have been priced out of home ownership by rampant house price inflation and stagnant wages since 2010.
A household would require an income of £51,250 to afford the average first home of £205,000, but HMRC figures show that 69% of dual income households earn less than this - the equivalent of 3.76m private renters who pay income tax.
In 2010, the average first home stood at £155,000 – affordable to households earning £38,750 or more, but still out of reach for 2.50m of income tax-paying private renters – or 54% of the total.
The government launched the Help to Buy scheme in March 2013 and since then the price of the average first home has risen by 14%. A total of 70,000 first homes have been bought under both forms of the scheme. Assuming two people for each household, the analysis shows that for each of the 140,000 beneficiaries of Help to Buy, nine people have had their aspirations destroyed by rising prices under the coalition government.
Duncan Stott, Director of PricedOut, said:
“The Coalition claimed that it supports first-time buyers, but it has presided over a massive corrosion of their aspirations. By encouraging house prices to rise and completely failing to deliver the homes needed to meet demand, more than a million people now have the outgoing government to blame for being denied the chance of a home of their own.
“Throwing money at buyers with initiatives like Help to Buy is dangerously counterproductive. If the next government is serious about reviving home ownership, its top priority must be to set about building enough homes to end house price inflation, otherwise more and more people will become stuck in a lifetime of renting.”Read more
Commenting on the Help To Buy ISA scheme announced in the Budget, Duncan Stott, Director of PricedOut, said:
"Once again George Osborne has conjured up another Budget gimmick that will do more harm than good to the housing market. First time buyers need house prices to fall, but this Help To Buy ISA scheme will push house prices upwards, which is the last thing we need.
"Help To Buy ISAs mean the government is directly pumping taxpayers' money into the housing market to prop house prices up. It will do nothing to get the new homes we desperately need built and leave house prices for future first time buyers even further out of reach.
"Reluctantly we are forced to recommend that young workers seriously consider taking out a Help To Buy ISA, in order to avoid losing out to other buyers later down the road. However we are urging whoever ends up in power after the general election to cease and desist from these damaging gimmicky policies and instead embark on policies that will bring an end to rising house prices."