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Berkeley chairman attacks government over housing policy

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One of the UK’s largest housebuilders has criticised the government’s housing ‘ideology’, saying it was too skewed towards homeownership

Berkeley chairman Tony Pidgley said the UK needs ‘a balance’ of housing tenure, adding that the government’s Starter Homes policy would not solve the housing crisis.

He said: ’I don’t think you can have an ideology where everyone has got to own a house, we’ve got to have a balance. The working class people and key workers in this country, they’re entitled to rent a property at rents that’s are affordable for their salary.’

According to the AJ’s sister title Construction News, Pidgley said the government had failed to get behind the build to rent sector, after imposing a 3 per cent Stamp Duty surcharge on second homes.

’They [the government] have taxed it [the sector], I don’t think they encourage it.

’I don’t think you can have a perfect housing market, you can’t have it a hundred per cent homeownership and I’m a housebuilder,’ he said.

Tony Pidgley on:

Offsite manufacturing: ’We’ve got to crack it, all my life we’ve tried to cure it but we’ve ever really found the answer. I’m not sure it’s the panacea, we need many silver bullets.’

Cost inflation: ’It’s horrendous, but it’s not just cost inflation, we’ve got a shortage of labour and when there’s a shortage, like anything when house prices go up, prices go up. But it is easing a bit.’

Timber skyscraper plans by PLP: ’It won’t work – those buildings move. We build skyscrapers and they move.

‘I built timber frame when I was 20 years of age, I like timber frame and it has a lot to be said for it in two-storey housing [because] it does take down the speed and it’s sustainable but you shouldn’t climb with it.’

Oakwood Tower   Barbican View  low res

‘If the government doesn’t wake up to the housing [crisis] they [investors] will stop investment in the London market,’ he added. ’Whether you like investors or not, they [investors] come in and take the risk out of development. If you can sell 30 per cent [on a development] it gives you the confidence to go on and do it [all].’

Pidgley was speaking at an event hosted by Barking and Dagenham council, which is undertaking a major regeneration of the borough.

The Berkeley chairman used the borough as an example of where investors were needed.

’They [Barking and Dagenham] have got the right leader [Councillor Darren Rodwell] but they need the investment to [grow].

’They will have some stiff challenges because currently house prices are almost at build cost levels so there’s no land value, so there’s no spare money to pay for infrastructure, so everyone is going it have to work at it.’


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