Overcoming the shortage of homes


This paper argues that poor levels of housebuilding are the result of an over-reliance on private-sector output.

It argues that private housebuilders have never been able to deliver all of the country's housing needs; that housing shortages have only ever been overcome when private output has been supplemented by substantial public-sector agency and investment; and that there is scant prospect of the current housing shortage being overcome without a similar approach.

The paper proposes placing a new statutory obligation on local authorities to acquire sufficient land to top up private-sector housebuilding to the required levels, funded by central government borrowing; new homes could be sold mostly into owner-occupation and the proceeds of sales reinvested into more housebuilding, in perpetuity.

It also proposes a new contract between planning authorities and developers in which permission to build residential property is time-limited and granted on a use-it-or-lose-it basis; failure to build out sites within agreed timescales would result in the forfeiture of the land at half its residential use value.

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