Calls for 300,000 homes to be built every year
The UK needs a three- fold increase in the number of new homes to help end the "blight" of poor housing, a report has concluded.
The study by the Future Homes Commission, a body instigated by the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba), called for 300,000 extra homes to be built every year on brownfield land and sections close to virtually every city, town and village in a "housing revolution".
The proposals would not cost "an extra penny" of Government spending or debt, providing "the dysfunctional way we build homes is radically overhauled", while creating tens of thousands of new jobs and encouraging investment, the report said.
It suggested local authorities lead the plans by securing rental housing developments on behalf of their taxpayers by pooling their assets to provide communities with better homes.
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The report called for five major changes that it said would lead to a "radical improvement in UK housing", beginning with an increase in the number of new homes built every year from the current 100,000 to more than 300,000.
An independently managed £10bn Local Housing Development Fund would kick-start the scheme, and would be financed and owned by the largest local authority pension fund.
The report also called for a greater focus on design in all new homes to ensure they met residents' needs, making them fit for future generations and attractive to UK and intern- ational investors to allow the local authority pension funds to recycle their investment.
Other suggested changes included a more "consumer- oriented" housing market, providing reliable information to buyers and a lead role for local councils to help them meet the needs of their communities and ensure a return on their investment.
Future Homes Commission chairman Sir John Banham said: "There is no better time to tackle the UK housing crisis.
"After a year-long national inquiry, the Future Homes Commission has concluded a housing revolution is entirely possible and will lead economic growth.
"We need to massively increase the number of quality homes being built for many years to come, but also to develop communities that enhance the quality of life for both new residents and those living in existing communities nearby. All this has to, and can, happen without any add- itional Government funding.
"We strongly believe that local government can become the leader of new development once again, by using their assets and powers to create the type of mature, sustainable, mixed tenure communities that Britain needs and that institutional and international investors want to invest in."
Riba president Angela Brady said: "The Future Homes Commission's recommen- dations provide an excellent starting point for delivering a radically improved housing market.
"In particular, Riba supports the clear value that should be placed on ensuring the homes we build today meet current buyers' needs and are fit for future generations.
"This report gives a most comprehensive picture of the current housing crisis and details some simple solutions that will, with a concerted effort, result in better housing.
Housing charity Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said: "This is the kind of joined-up thinking we need to tackle our housing crisis. Building more homes is absolutely key, but it's equally important that new housing is affordable to people on a variety of incomes, and that it's better designed.
"Young families need homes that are built for family living, while local communities want new developments that don't take away from the quality of their area.
"Ensuring new homes are good quality and affordable for local people will be huge step forward in forming the consensus we need to get Britain building.
"This is not only vital for the economy, but for a generation of young people struggling to get a home of their own."
Housing minister Mark Prisk said: "We're determined to pull out all the stops to get Britain building and the report from the Future Homes Commission raises innovative and interesting ideas, which we will consider carefully.
"We've introduced a range of measures, including investing £19.5bn of public and private funds into our affordable housing programme, £10bn loan guarantees to get more homes built for rent and selling surplus, formerly-used public sector land with build- now-pay-later deals to get workers on sites and the homes we need built.
"We're also cutting planning red tape and giving commun- ities a greater voice in how their local areas develop, enabling them to reflect local character, feature good architecture and homes designed to stand the test of time."