How should the UK meet its housing requirements?


The fact that there is a housing crisis in the UK, especially in London, is no secret.

The government recently launched a white paper that looks at dealing with the crisis, and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has outlined some big plans too.

You might have also read my recent blogs on the subject.

Talk is cheap though. First time buyers in particular need action.

So how should the UK meet its housing requirements?

Here are my four tips:

1) Take A Fresh Approach To The Green Belt:

The term ‘Green Belt’ is used for a lot of land which, when first classified, would have been open space and green land, but the landscape of London has changed over previous decades.

What was considered green belt 30 years ago may not be as important in today’s economy.

As Nigel Wilson, Chief Executive of housebuilders Legal & General said recently, the green belt needs to be re-examined.

It’s likely that some of it would then be reclassified to allow for easier construction on the sites. Brownfield sites currently encompassed by the Green Belt are prime examples of how development might occur within the Green Belt with little impact.

There are many sites across East London around areas like Wanstead, Leyton, and Leytonstone that would be prime locations for more housing.

Local authorities in East London such as Redbridge are looking at this very idea.

2) Build Around Infrastructure Projects:

Projects like Crossrail are providing better connections, so utilising the zones around stations will help fulfil housing requirements.

The east end of the Crossrail route, which will include Ilford, Romford and Shenfield, should be, and in many cases are being, regenerated to provide much needed housing.

With an ever-increasing demand for housing it’s clear that housebuilders will need to look to areas further outside of London, but these new homes will need good transport links to connect them to the city.

Looking back to previous mistakes, the developments in Canary Wharf, in East London, were initially not successful or popular because the transport links were poor.

However, when the DLR was built the area became a lot more popular.

So while bearing that in mind, the routes along the High Speed 2 (HS2) and Crossrail 2 should provide some opportunities much-needed housing.

3) Use A Mix of Housing Types:

In order to meet housing targets set between local authorities and the government new construction projects are going to have to primarily be tall high-rise apartment blocks.

However, as I have said in a previous post (insert link to B&D Council article) these are mainly starter homes to allow first time buyers into the market.

Therefore, a mixed approach is needed, including garden cities, with urban planning being vital to these sites. Public services and other amenities will need to be relatively close.

4) Repurposing Old Buildings:

Homes and other buildings that lay empty and derelict represent a waste of space, so repurposing unused buildings will ensure these sites are not left to rot.

Planning may need to be flexible to allow change of use.

Battersea Power Station in London is a great example of how this projects can re-invigorate an area. The refurbishment there is providing commercial space, with Apple moving their London HQ there, as well residential space.

It’s clear that the UK is in the midst of a housing crisis, and while governments of all colours have made big noises over recent years about dealing with the issue, no action has been taken.

If the above four points are taken on board by local authorities, the government, and homebuilders we could see a new wave of homeowners coming onto the market.

For those who are already on the ladder, or are in the process of buying, it can be a stressful process.

After 35 years of working in the architecture and interior design industry I have created a free report outlining my top tips before you make any home renovations.

You can download it now for free here.

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