Is the government finally taking housing seriously?

Ebbsfleet is the exception that proves the rule.A final point: last week I inadvertently omitted Philip Dowson from my list of significant architects we have lost this year. We need council housing, too. I see a critical role for architects in all this, working for housebuilders, contractors, developers and, quite possibly, themselves in the great housing construction recovery programme we now require.In the coming election housing will be a key issue for many parts of society, and we can only hope that ideas such as the Northstowe trial will be plentiful and will not be suppressed by any of the political parties. This government housing trial could be the start of something big, writes Paul Finch
The announcement that the government is conducting a trial of procuring housing development itself, via the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), is an encouraging sign of rationality breaking out in the analysis of why we are short of houses and flats in many parts of the country, particularly London and the South East.The trial takes place on a site in Northstowe in Cambridgeshire, formerly identified as part of the eco-town programme, and George Osborne is funding the initiative as part of the National Infrastructure Plan.   This will require changes in fundamental attitudes to property as a cash cow, and a new focus on the quality of what is being built. We need someone like him to lead the charge in sorting out the housing problem. Initiatives such as the mansion tax are a waste of time, since they will not increase supply in any meaningful   sense, while the near-obsession with garden cities ignores the length of time it takes to deliver what we need soon.   Thinking about housing as a branch of infrastructure, rather than as an individual investment or as politicised social engineering, is equally welcome. Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment. Clearly there is market failure in housing, and although the usual free-market moaners have claimed that land shortage and the planning system have brought about our present under-supply, they cannot explain why the private sector would build so many new homes that it reduced its own collective profitability.Estate agent Savills has just produced a killer survey proving that hundreds of thousands of homes could be built on land currently held in public ownership.

Updated: 11.12.2014 — 18:42