If you’re a regular reader of this blog then you’ll no doubt be fully up to speed with all the technical elements of New Civic Housebuilding including the problems with the current system, and what we’re proposing is done to sort it out.
Because we’re very involved in all things development, it’s easy to assume that everyone is as up-to-speed with current planning processes and land value issues as we are.
The public generally get the argument that we need to build more genuinely affordable homes. But whilst it’s accepted that there’s a problem, our current speculative housebuilding model is so dominant and so entrenched that it’s hard for many people to imagine a solution that actually fixes the problem. It’s also difficult to articulate, because a lot of the solutions are very complex and rooted in the intricacies of housing policy.
It’s crucial that we get ordinary people on side. One of the (many) benefits of New Civic Housebuilding is that it builds developments that benefit local communities, rather than line the pockets of big developers.
Our research shows that 7 in 10 of those who have previously opposed building in their local area would be more likely to support the building of new homes if it meant things like local infrastructure was improved, or more schools and doctors surgeries were built. Another key factor is making sure the homes are affordable for local people. This just shows that development can be popular, if it’s done in the right way.
That’s where the work we’re undertaking with Shelter supporters comes in.
Today we’re launching a campaign with the aim of getting supporters to understand the concept of New Civic Housebuilding, and the benefits it brings.
How will Shelter supporters get involved?
We’re going to ask our supporters to send in examples of sites in their local areas which aren’t being developed, and we’ll do some digging to establish what the hold-up is. We’ll then arm supporters with this information, and point them in the direction of how to try and get things moving.
This will demonstrate that the current system isn’t working, and explain some of the reasons why. We’ll also talk about how New Civic Housebuilding would mitigate some of these issues.
Before we go public, we’ve done a bit of testing on how this would work, using examples that colleagues can think of. What’s remarkable is how most people can think of an example off the top of their head, which just goes to show how common the problem is.
For most people, it makes sense that once a site has been granted planning permission, work on the site should start quickly – and ultimately homes should be built. In fact, we’ve found that more than 320,000 homes that have been granted planning permission have gone unbuilt over the last 5 years, leading to ‘phantom homes’
Trying to find out why a site hasn’t been developed means tackling a lot of complex information. It involves lots of trawling through Local Authority planning portals, checking the Land Registry and in some cases submitting a Freedom of Information request to Councils themselves, or contacting the developer directly. Even after all this, in a lot of cases it’s very difficult to come to a definitive answer about what’s going on.
It shouldn’t be this hard.
This mystery contributes towards the inherent scepticism of new developments. Firstly, local people don’t feel involved in the decisions that lead to a plot being granted planning permission, and then when it does get planning permission, they’re left in the dark about when to expect the homes that have been promised, and particularly the locally affordable homes that their area needs..
We want to make sure people are involved in the planning process at an earlier stage so the development can better meet the needs of the local community. We want to empower people to challenge when development should be happening but isn’t. All of this involves making important information about local development more easily accessible, and in some instances, available in the first place.
Transparency is crucial in getting the public on side when it comes to development.
We’ll be updating these pages with the results of our investigation with supporters, so watch this space for more information.