Developers must do more to avoid another lost decade, urges report

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BRITAIN risks another ‘lost decade’ of housebuilding unless the Government demands more of developers, according to a new report published today by think-tank IPPR.

It argued that the construction industry has prioritised trading land over building homes for too long.

It added that, as with the banks, the Government’s housing strategy has given support and guarantees to developers, but has not made sufficient demands in return.

The IPPR warned the outcome could be further subsidised stagnation in UK housebuilding.

Nick Pearce, IPPR director, said: “The Government’s new Housing Strategy does not make sufficient demands of the housebuilders. Instead, it offers them public land, money and guarantees without a serious ‘quid pro quo’. ”

“The Government must demand more bang for the taxpayer’s buck. If it doesn’t, the result will be subsidised stagnation and another lost decade of housebuilding.

“It is now time for development industry reform to become an integral part of housing policy.”

The IPPR said the only way to end the UK’s chronic housing crisis is to build many more homes.

IPPR analysis shows that England faces a shortfall of 750,000 homes by 2025, but the latest figures indicated construction of new homes fell below 100,000 in the 12 months to September 2011, the lowest level since the First World War.

The IPPR claimed that Yorkshire and Humberside will face a housing gap of 151,000 homes by 2025.

The report recommended that land should be ‘de-risked’ by splitting the development process into two separate parts – the trading of land and the building of houses.

This would be similar to plans to set up a firewall between banks’ retail operations and investment banking.

It also said that all land ownership and sales should be registered with the Land Registry, with serious penalties for those who fail to comply.

It added that financially unviable builders which produce too few new homes should be allowed to go to the wall.