Derwenthorpe, York © Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust
Unlocking the full potential of Britain’s housebuilders The number of new homes built on the open market has fluctuated between 140,000 in 1992 and over 190,000 at the height of the market in 2007, an average of around 150,000 each year. The number changes depending on economic conditions, the availability of mortgages and the state of other sectors of the housing market, such as the level of government grants for building social housing. Currently the industry is producing around 100,000 new homes every year – barely a third of what we need to tackle the chronic shortage of housing.6 But it is not just the number of homes being built that is the problem. The quality of many new homes is so poor that people would far rather have a century-old home, with all its high running costs and maintenance, than buy what they perceive to be cramped, poorly designed, often dingy new homes. Research by the RIBA for The Case for Space7 suggests that only a quarter of the public would choose a home built in the last ten years. Further polls have revealed that whilst people acknowledge the need for more new homes, they do not want them to be built in their community.8 This report calls for the inspirational designs of the best housebuilders to become the norm. Yet even well-designed homes are not enough. Building around 300,000 homes each year implies creating around 500-700 new communities year in, year out for perhaps two decades. That is simply not possible unless councils and other public authorities energetically support development and local communities accept the need for new buildings.
1_ Debt and Deleveraging: Uneven Progress on the Path to Growth, McKinsey Global Institute, 2012 2_ The National Housing Federation suggests there were 1,751,982 households on the housing register in 2009/10, with additional figures of homelessness and people in temporary accommodation. See Home Truths NHF, 2011 3_ Council of Mortgage Lenders statistics in CML News and Views, Issue No 24, December 2011. 4_ Construction in the UK Economy: The benefits of investing, L.E.K. Consulting for UK Contractors Group, 2009 5_ 232,000 households are expected to form every year between now and 2033 according to Department for Communities and Local Government statistics reported in Laying the Foundations: A Housing Strategy for England, November 2011 6_ Table 209 House building: permanent dwellings completed, by tenure and country, Communities and Local Government Live tables on house building, accessed September 2012, figures are for UK 7_ RIBA’s YouGov poll reported in The Case for Space, RIBA, 2011 8_ YouGov poll for the New Homes Marketing Board, published December 2010. 81% believe Britain needs more housing but just 50% would welcome more homes of all types in their own immediate neighbourhoods