Leading peers from the House of Lords have thrown their weight behind RIBA’s Future Homes Commission’s recommendations for tackling the UK’s dearth of housing
In a special lunchtime debate led by Labour peer Baroness Whitaker held on the eve of the Autumn Statement, a number of high-profile Lords asked the government for a response to the Building the Homes and Communities Britain Need report.
Published in October the report called for a three-fold increase in the number of new homes being built every year from the current 100,000 to over 300,000, a greater focus on design and a more consumer-oriented housing market.
Baroness Whitiker said the report made a ‘good stab’ at suggesting ways to solve the UK’s ‘dire housing situation… with nearly 2 million households currently on the housing list, well over 50,000 homeless, and more than that in temporary accommodation.’
Fellow Labour peer Lord Whitty accused the government of merely ‘tinkering’ with possible solutions to the housing problem. He warned: ‘They [the government] may be successful, but the long-term problem requires a more long-term solution.’
We need an emphasis on good design as key to ensuring investment lasts
Crossbench peer Lord Best backed the report’s call for good design to be at the heart of reform: ‘We need an emphasis on good design as the key to ensuring all this investment lasts and that new development gains public acceptance,’ he said.
Lord Sawyer agreed: ‘There is poverty of expectation about design and space.
‘No one in the supply chain, whether bankers, building societies, developers or even the Government, talk about it enough or promote it. It is absent,’ added Sawyer.
But Liberal Democrat Lord Maddock claimed the coalition government was facing up to the problem and highlighted the £500 million allocated to the Growing Places Fund, which he said was ‘aimed at kick-starting stalled housing projects’.
He also claimed the government’s Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Act had earmarked £10 billion of investment which he said would ‘go towards helping what we call “shovel-ready” housing projects to get started’.
In a separate development, shadow housing minster in the Lords, Lord Bill McKenzie said he welcomed the report’s emphasis on ‘highlighting the key role of local authorities in helping to create sustainable communities’
‘We share the vision of mixed communities living in well-designed, high quality homes in neighbourhoods with good facilities and where people want to live,’ said McKenzie.
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