300,000 desperately needed extra homes could be built in the UK every year without an extra penny of Government spending or debt if the dysfunctional way we build homes is radically overhauled according to the findings of a radical new report released today (Friday 26 October) by the Future Homes Commission (FHC).
The UK can be propelled out of recession, institutional and international investment encouraged, tens of thousands of new jobs generated and the chronic shortage of quality housing solved by a major overhaul of the way we fund, build and market new housing development, the Future Homes Commission has concluded. The Commission’s recommendations are wide ranging, but place strong emphasis on the leadership role of Local Authorities in securing the necessary local rental housing developments on behalf of their local taxpayers by pooling their assets to provide local communities with better homes.
The Future Homes Commission’s report, delivered by an independent group of experts led by British business leader Sir John Banham, concludes a year-long detailed inquiry, the first ever national comprehensive consultation considering the state of UK housing and the opportunities that are waiting to be exploited. The Commission has surveyed public opinion, sought evidence from experts in the field of housing and commissioned research to identify consumers’ needs and how more and better homes are built.
Thousands of new communities need to be built and their quality will be imperative to their future success, and the economic success of the country. The Future Homes Commission’s ground-breaking report ‘Building the Homes and Communities Britain Needs’ details the housing revolution that is necessary and calls for five major changes that will lead to a radical improvement in UK housing:
1. A three-fold increase in the number of new homes being built every year (from the current 100,000 to over 300,000) on brownfield land and land close to virtually every city, town and village, this can be achieved by -
2. The setting up of an independently managed £10 billion Local Housing Development Fund, to kick start the effort to build new mixed tenure communities. The fund would be financed by the largest Local Authority pension funds pooling 15% of their assets to invest in rental and shared-ownership housing. The fund would be owned by the contributing pension funds.
3. A greater focus on design in all new homes, ensuring they meet current residents’ needs, making them fit for future generations, and thus attractive to UK and international institutional investors so that Local Authority pension funds can recycle their investment once a community has been established
4. A more consumer-oriented housing market, with reliable, comprehensive information available to people when making the most important financial decisions of their lives
5. A lead role for local councils, using the new powers now at their disposal to lead the creation of sustainable communities to meet local housing needs and ensure a decent return of their investments.
Chair of the Future Homes Commission, Sir John Banham said:
'There is no better time to tackle the UK housing crisis. After a year-long national inquiry, the Future Homes Commission has concluded a housing revolution is entirely possible and will lead economic growth. We need to increase massively the number of quality homes being built for many years to come, but also to develop communities which enhance the quality of life for both new residents and those living in existing communities nearby. All this has to and can happen without any additional government funding.
'We strongly believe that local government can become the leader of new development once again, by using their assets and powers to create the type of mature, sustainable, mixed tenure communities that Britain needs and that institutional and international investors want to invest in. After decades on the sidelines, the time is right for local government to show real leadership and realise their potential to shape a positive future for local people by delivering strong, self-financing communities where people want to live and to kick start the demand for better quality housing in the future.'
The Commission’s recommendations have been reached by discussions with independent experts in housing policy, the local housing market and construction industries, local government and international real estate fund management.
RIBA President Angela Brady said:
'The Future Homes Commission’s recommendations provide an excellent starting point for delivering a radically improved housing market. In particular, the RIBA supports the clear value that should be placed on ensuring the homes we build today meet current buyers’ needs and are fit for future generations. This report gives a most comprehensive picture of the current housing crisis and details some simple solutions that will, with a concerted effort, result in better housing. We support the need for greater collaboration between all parties involved in delivering housing in the UK and will be looking in detail at the Commission’s specific recommendations to ensure we play an active part in the housing revolution.'