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House of Lords demands 300,000 new homes per year

Homes under construction
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A House of Lords committee has urged the government to increase its annual housebuilding target by 50 per cent to 300,000 homes if it wants to solve the housing crisis

In the Building More Homes report – published today (15 July) – the Select Committee on Economic Affairs criticised current housing policies and condemned the government for concentrating too much on homes to buy rather than to rent.

The report also said that existing housing output failed ‘to meet the demand for new homes or moderate the rate of house price increases’.

Committee chair Clive Hollick said the government’s current target of 200,000 homes per year seemed to be ‘plucked from the air’.

He added: ‘The government are too focused on home ownership, which will never be achievable for a great many people and in some areas it will be out of reach even for those on average incomes.’

The committee recommended lifting the current funding restraints on local authorities, allowing them ‘to resume their historic role as one of the major builders of new homes, particularly social housing’.

The government are too focused on home ownership

It also recommended granting the power to charge council tax on projects not completed within a scheduled time period.

Hollick added: ‘Local authorities have the ambition and skills to make a very significant contribution [to building new homes] and it’s important for the government to back them.’

He also called on the government to use large swathes of land owned by public bodies such as the NHS, Transport for London and the Ministry of Defence to provide space for the new homes.

‘The government needs to take seriously the question of how to get public land built on,’ he said. ‘We are calling on the government to do that.’

While the report had little to say on the design of new homes, the committee stressed the importance of high-quality housing.

Committee member Patience Wheatcroft said: ‘We certainly wouldn’t advocate anything other than the best standards of building.’

Hollick said: ‘[If] there can be encouragement for local authorities to do more [building] that would increase the number of flats and significantly improve the built environment, but also the environment around those estates.’

New prime minister Theresa May has already promised ‘more housebuilding’ under her leadership, however she did not go into detailed numbers or how this would be achieved.

 The full report is available to read on the committee’s website.

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