Future of Housing

G4C was recently invited by RICS to take part in a roundtable discussion on how to speed up housing delivery in the UK. Cost of land was high on the agenda as much as the long debated inefficiency in timing infrastructural planning with electoral cycles. Where G4C made the difference was in highlighting the long lasting legacy of housing policies. What is generally pretty straight forward thinking, for anyone in her twenties and thirties, generated a rather lively debate around the table (where the average age was a bit higher). The conversation took into account not only the ongoing political debate but also the wider angle of global demographics and all-but-sustainable use of natural resources. Housing, alongise energy, is probably the most important social infrastructure for any developed economy. Acting now is crucial to ensure adequate support for future growth and social equality. In terms of large scale strategic housing planning, most mid-sized developers – which account for the larger number of them – are still relying on the Victorian terrace grid which is just unfeasible today in terms of land use, energy consumption and density. The intensive use of land of low density housing is reflected at the other end of the scale by abnormally dense blocks with towering volumes overlooking souless wannabe public spaces. In the interest of future generations it is time now for local authorities to go back to the drawing board, being brave with upgrading and replacing post war housing and possibly reconsider the relationship between London and the green belt holding onto the awareness that there is not such thing as natural environment. Whether green, brown or grey, it is all man made out there and we are responsible for the overall balance. From crime-prone South American slums to petrifying Chinese high rise, from the the unrest brewed in the French banlieu to our very own experience of London riots no more evidence is needed to gear us up on the relevance of a well planned housing strategy to underpin the future of a healthy society. Housing policy implementation is delivering patchy results with pockets of astronomically high value in the South East and lack of investment and return everywhere else. Since private investment largely drives local government innovation we are experiencing an ever increasing height of the property ladder’s first step. We have been labelled Generation Rent because of the tangible difficulty in lining up wages, lending cost, shortage of supply and tricky interest rates. It’s probably time to roll up our sleeves and help today’s leaders in changing perspective on future housing delivery. Again, it’s up to us.

Author: G4C