Overcoming the challenges of low-cost housing demand in the UK
There is currently a huge need for affordable housing in the UK. A changing housing market that is underpinned by a growing renting generation, the government’s ambitious affordable housing targets and local council housebuilding initiative all have an impact here. However, while there is clearly a need for high quality, low cost homes in the UK, building targets are constantly being missed and many are not convinced that there is enough policy and infrastructure in place to cope. So, how can the challenges of low-cost housing demand in the UK be overcome?
Finding sufficient land
Issues remain in terms of finding sufficient land – and the right land – on which to construct this essential housing stock. A target of releasing government-owned land for 160,000 homes by 2020, for example, is unlikely to be achieved. By the end of 2018, auditors at the National Audit Office said that the government had only released enough land with the capacity for 38,166 homes. This programme clearly needs to be speeded up if obstacles to low-cost housing are to be overcome.
Funding building and development
According to one home consultancy, the government will only meet its home building targets if it makes grant funding available for affordable housing, as opposed to relying only on private sales.
Building on Brownfield sites
Given that there is such a lack of available land on which to build this type of essential property, the use of Brownfield sites could be crucial. One new analysis found that around a million homes could be built on these sites across the UK, all of which are currently unused. Brownfield sites are usually areas that were previously developed but are now derelict and no longer in use. Another big advantage of using Brownfield sites is that it would deliver regeneration to run down areas, rather than using parts of the countryside as building sites.
Consumers tend to shy away from self build, as it’s not always obvious how this process can be quickly and efficiently achieved. However, providing self build options could be another way to overcome the challenges of low-cost housing demand in the UK, especially given the innovation in this field that is constantly bringing costs down.
Cities such as London are notoriously short on development space. That’s why it has made a lot of sense for tall construction that makes maximum use of small land plots in overcrowded urban areas. Tall buildings are being constructed in London all the time and offer an obvious way to make the most of available space and also to reduce the costs associated with purchase by increasing the number of properties on one site.
There are many challenges to increasing the volume of available low-cost housing in the UK. However, many solutions also exist. And with the government, local authorities and the construction sector working together to meet housebuilding targets it’s clear that there are a range of ways in which more low-cost options could be created to meet demand.
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