Building more affordable homes must be better than building none

The Times reported on a warning by unnamed charities who say rural landowners will benefit at the expense of the poor by reducing the amount of land earmarked for affordable homes.

At the moment, developments on ‘rural exception sites’ can only be built if local people haven't demonstrated opposition to the plans, if the homes are reserved for local people, and the homes are never resold or rented at market rates.

If proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework go ahead local authorities will be given discretion to allow new homes to be built on these sites. As the draft changes state, this could lead to “the delivery of affordable units without grant funding.”

In practice this is likely to lend itself to a net increase in affordable homes being built. Surely given the housing crisis the country finds itself in, this should be welcomed.

The housing market isn’t working the way it should be working. We still want to buy a home but ownership peaked in 2003 - around the same time Dido’s album Life for Rent was the bestselling album in the UK -  and has been falling since. Most people recognise that the country needs more homes and therefore building more is a good thing.

Building new homes is a very expensive, complex and time-consuming process and it’s because of these factors that many have found lots of the new homes – but importantly not all of them – too expensive to buy because we aren’t earning enough. In 1990, the ratio between average annual salaries and house prices was around 3.5 times. Now it’s near 5.5 times. Tighter lending policies haven’t helped either. Even with low interest rates and Government help for first-time buyers, home ownership has become harder. 

Trying to fix this problem is a complex task and there is no silver bullet. But what is self-evident is that building more affordable homes is better than building none. This means fewer people in temporary housing and fewer people paying half of their wages in rent to contribute towards someone else’s mortgage. It means people have a secure place to call home and that should be celebrated.

This article was written by Kashif Taher, Account Executive at MPC