The president of the RIBA has slammed chancellor George Osborne’s budget as ‘uninspiring’, claiming it lacks the commitment to end the nation’s housing crisis
Stephen Hodder said announcements for 20 new housing zones, a new Help-to-Buy ISA for first-time buyers and increased planning powers for London Mayor Boris Johnson did not go far enough to encourage the required mass house building drive.
Hodder said: ‘Today’s Budget was an opportunity to demonstrate real commitment to a major programme of investment in new homes and to lay the foundations for supporting successful communities. On both counts the chancellor has left us uninspired.’
He added: ‘Although the chancellor’s announcements about new housing and infrastructure in London are positive, such piecemeal measures fall short of the commitment needed to end the housing crisis within a generation. Whoever forms the next government must go much further and champion the long-term sustainable supply of high-quality new homes that people want to live in and communities will support.’
The RIBA president said he had hoped the chancellor would have given a greater commitment to a renewed council-backed housing drive and a more concrete plan for the use of publicly-owned land.
He said: ‘The London Land Commission can play a vital role in unlocking brownfield development sites across the capital and we urge the government to extend this strategy to other areas of the UK. We need a more concerted approach to redeveloping brownfield sites and ensuring that new housing is supported by high-quality infrastructure.’
The Manchester-based architect also raised concerns about the extent and detail surrounding the devolution agreements with a number of cities.
He said: ‘The government has made welcome progress in delivering more powers to local and regional bodies and we strongly support the devolution of additional business rate revenues to Manchester and Cambridge as a first step to giving local authorities the resources to invest in their communities. However, we are concerned that the accompanying review of business rates could effectively reduce the amount available.
Housing zones and enterprise zones must not exist in isolation
‘The next government should go much further and ensure that the power to fund and co-ordinate housing and infrastructure development rests with local communities, rather than Whitehall. The new housing zones and enterprise zones announced today must not exist in isolation – local authorities must be given the necessary authority and resources to make these a genuine success.’