ADEPT recognises at least 200,000 new homes need to be built each year over the next decade to meet demand, requiring bold solutions and political bravery. The announcement of 20 new housing zones on brownfield sites, while potentially encouraging, is merely a sticking plaster solution.
Equally, while eye-catching initiatives like the ‘Help to Buy Isa’ will be welcomed by many first-time buyers, further demand-side measures like this will simply stoke up house and land prices, particularly in the South East.
We need to adopt more supply-side measures, which fuel construction as well as improving skills and creating jobs, while addressing the root causes of our housing challenge.
More affordable housing needs to be developed for local housing markets but one size does not fit all. ADEPT members in local housing and planning authorities understand the dynamics of their local housing markets and are delivering innovative, bespoke solutions to unlock supply. They also know what infrastructure is needed to make housing accessible as well as affordable and ensure that communities are well connected.
The chancellor's announcement of more powers for the mayor of London on planning decisions is one thing but each place in the country has its own housing needs. Only through bespoke devolution deals that respect local knowledge, local insight and local democracy can we truly address our housing shortfall.
The chancellor also announced a review of business rates which is promising but only one part of the picture. Local politicians and partners need a complete set of tools, powers and funding to make investment decisions that are right for their areas. Devolution deals should free local authorities to make their own decisions and reinvest the proceeds of their growth in local services and facilities.
So, we call upon the next government to work with us to develop locally driven solutions to our national housing shortage. Difficult decisions need to be made now, otherwise we run the risk of stifling economic growth and leaving future generations unable to afford a home of their own.
Simon Neilson is chair of the planning, regeneration and housing board at ADEPT (Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport)