Comments : Will the UK housing boom lead to Greenbelt development?
There is a desperate shortage of houses in the UK and it seems that the country has managed to get itself into quite a pickle. It has been suggested by many experts that the only way to burst Britain out of its current property bubble is for the UK Government to allow and encourage the development of Greenbelt land.
During December 2013, more than half of all councils located around England where preparing to grant various areas of their Greenbelt land liable for development ahead of brownfield sites according to research produced by The National Trust.
This survey by The National Trust revealed that out of the 59 councils in England only 30 of those who had Greenbelt land in their area had responded. The survey also showed that around 51% where willing/highly likely to allow some of this land to become eligible for development within the forthcoming five years.
Out of 147 people who had responded to the survey, over half of them had replied via the Local Government Information Unit. During this process many stated that they had brownfield sites available for development that could have possibly helped towards the five year property and land supply target however, these sites weren’t considered viable for the future project.
During summer 2013, results collated from a survey that had been conducted among senior officers and local politicians who are responsible for green spaces, public parks and planning arrived 18 months after the Government decided to unveil its national planning framework. During what was known as the biggest “shake up” of planning law for over half a century, planning rules had been decreased from 1,000 down to 50 in a bid to simplify often complex laws and encourage sustainable economic growth, as well as speed up many processes.
Local authorities who are beneath the framework were required to assess and figure out housing needs within their area for the coming future and in doing so they allocated land in order to meet these needs with a “presumption in favour of sustainable development". The Campaign to Protect Rural England along with The National Trust has repeatedly shown disapproval towards the newly devised regulations.
More recently, sources from Downing Street have dismissed the idea of garden cities as a solution to help towards Britain’s crippling property shortage. On the other hand, an endless amount of “enthusiasm” has been displayed towards the idea of shared ownership in hope that it will give many people a varied opportunity to move up on the property ladder.
However, according to Professor Paul Cheshire, who is part of the London School of Economics, only radical changes would do. He mentioned that many promises to save Greenbelt land are a measly “stalling tactic to appease the Home County set”. He went on to say;
“The Government will do nothing before next year’s general election but only radical changes, which will be very difficult to swallow politically, will solve the problem. The reality is that we have had a shortage of housing supply for more than 20 years which has led to a shortfall of between 1.6 million and 2.3 million homes and there is a huge, pent-up demand”.
Land prices have dramatically increased by 15 fold since 1955 due to poor planning regulations meanwhile, property prices have only risen a mere 5 fold. Earlier in the week the deputy Governor from the Bank of England, Jon Cunliffe expressed a warning as the housing market current is currently the “biggest risk to the UK economy, followed shortly by household debt equalling 135% of the average house hold earnings.
Mortgage insurers, Genworth collated information this month to show that a third of all hopeful property owners who live in Britain have “given up hope” when it comes to holding back enough money for a deposit whilst another 73% did not anticipate the purchase of their very first home “within the next two and a half years”.
Do you think it is acceptable to build upon Greenbelt Land?
Nicole Cran, Pali Ltd
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