Build, baby, build!


This new report from UK think tank Adam Smith Institute looks at how to end the housing crisis.

In a new paper Senior Fellow Nigel Hawkins explains how we can get Britain building and end the housing crisis: During the 1950s, the UK’s annual new house-build exceeded 300,000 units. Prior to the introduction of wide-ranging planning legislation in 1947, the annual figure had been even higher in the 1930s. In recent years, despite a steadily rising population, around 200,000 new units per year have been built, so that the English housing stock figure is now c23.8 million dwellings. The shortfall in new housing stock has contributed to soaring property prices, and the consequential erection of major financial barriers to first-time buyers. For under-35s, unless they are high earners or the beneficiaries of family financial support, the hopes of becoming a homeowner before their mid-30s are receding. Many of this age-group are accepting, perhaps reluctantly, the attractions of home rental rather than home ownership. Following the financial crisis in 2008/09 and despite ultra-low interest rates subsequently, securing the necessary mortgage has often been challenging; indeed, house-building levels fell. While constructing more homes is a widely-held priority, volume housebuilders (VHBs) face real challenges in navigating the time-consuming planning process, before even a brick is laid. This Paper examines a number of potential ways that Britain could increase the level of housebuilding at a national and local level: Local authorities must reverse their opposition to smaller units in order to provide Londoners with more housing choice at affordable levels. Major planning reform Modest Green Belt encroachment Easing constraints for medium-sized/small house-builders Dismantling some rental restrictions covering Housing Associations Promoting innovation within the house-building sector Establishing some Infrastructure Developments Zones (IDZs) which could offer tax incentives and relaxed planning laws Developing surplus public land Kickstarting the New Garden Towns proposals.

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