Reviving the English tradition of building attractive, affordable homes


The problem

In England we are not building enough homes – and haven’t for at least a generation. It’s at the heart of every housing problem we see, from rocketing house prices and falling homeownership to worsening homelessness. Our current housebuilding system cannot solve the housing shortage on its own. We need new forms of Civic Housebuilding, drawing on the best traditions from our past, to build good homes which are affordable and come with decent new infrastructure.


Too few homes, built too slowly. The speculative housebuilding model

As the video shows, successive governments have relied on just one business model to deliver homes – the ‘speculative’ housebuilding model. This model has its benefits, but on its own it simply can’t build the number or quality of homes we need. Speculative developers must compete to buy land; pushing up prices as they outbid each other. Because they pay so much for land upfront, they have to drive down all other costs – such as the quality of construction, local infrastructure and affordable homes. Read more here

Housebuilding in England since 1923

Sources: DCLG, Shelter analysis Images (1946-2015): A Right To Build, Architecture 00:/, 2012

The Solution

It often feels like nothing can solve England’s housing shortage. The choices seem too drastic, too unpopular, and too expensive. Even where tough reforms are made and political capital is spent, the results don’t seem to change. To build enough homes – beautiful, locally affordable homes with appropriate infrastructure – we need a new vision. We call this New Civic Housebuilding: a way to build the homes we need, enabled by a fairer trade-off between windfalls for landowners and benefits for communities. There will be many vested interests who argue against this analysis and the policies recommended. But as a country we have listened to their views and recommendations for a long time, while watching homes become less and less affordable. It’s high time we remember how we built the beautiful and affordable homes of the past, which people are still proud of. It’s time to revive Civic Housebuilding.

Download the report here.

Launch event – 2nd March 2017, One Great George Street


We're LIVE for Shelter's New Civic Housebuilding launch at Westminster. We’ve built the homes we need before as a country, and it’s time to do it again.

Posted by Shelter on Thursday, March 2, 2017









View the presentation from our launch event here.

“Shelter’s report is essential reading for policy makers and very clearly explains the drag which the land market creates on housebuilding, and why many policy responses have not moved the volume dial sufficiently. New Civic Housebuilding provides solutions which draw on real examples across the ages and the world. It tackles head on the trade-off between the mechanics of land pricing and rate of supply for this unique type of commodity – an affordable house to live in”

Jan Crosby, Head of Housing, KPMG LLP