There is absolutely no doubt that the current conditions in which we find ourselves will fundamentally affect the economic standing of the UK, government strategy on our recovery and its priorities going forward. The country currently is not able to operate in any sort of normality and the state is stepping in to support individuals and businesses to an extent never envisaged by even the most experienced of analysts.
It is also clear, and quite rightly so, that a significant adjustment in government fiscal policy will be directed towards investment in the NHS and the future resilience of the nation to the sort of situation we currently find ourselves in.
As a nation we are going to be spending a lot more money on vital national, medical and institutional infrastructure and people, than was anticipated only a few months ago. This will inevitably lead to a changing of priorities in how the government spends on other matters and how much debt it is willing to incur in order to achieve its strategic aims.
There will be an inevitable reduction in delivery of new homes due to reduced activity on construction sites. New planning permissions will also be delayed due to other priorities and pressures on LPA staff and resources.
Unemployment is being projected to reach 5.2% from a pre-covid level of 3.9%, this effectively would reverse 3 years of improvement in 2 months. Follow the link to read more about the how UK jobs are being impacted by COVID-19. (https://www.ft.com/content/9f3661b9-14cb-472a-9246-d784d436ea52)
So how can Housebuilding help this situation?
Housebuilding, done right, has a positive socio-economic effect unlike most other industries.
- We have a shortage of homes, whether they are Affordable (with a capital A) or private sale. Providing people with a place to live gives them a stake in their community and the security and peace to be productive and contribute.
- Housebuilding provides employment at a rate of circa 3 jobs for every home built.
- Of the many billions of pounds spent by housebuilders with suppliers, around 90% stays in the UK, supporting jobs and the UK economy.
- New Homes, in the right place, with the right infrastructure, built and designed well, create a virtuous circle in providing cohesive, responsible communities that can increase happiness and bring positive financial outcomes.
HBF figures show the clear benefit provided by housebuilders: Take a look at the link below to learn more.
With limited availability of Brownfield sites attention must turn to the delivery of housing in areas outside of existing settlements. I do not advocate a concreting over of the UK’s “green and pleasant land” but I do advocate the following:
- Qualitative assessment of sites in the green belt to ensure that the individual nature of a site is taken into account when considering appropriateness for redevelopment. It seems completely illogical that Countryside designated sites that provide real or visual amenity are afforded less protection from redevelopment than an “eyesore” in the green belt.
- Review of town centre policies to take account of the decline in high street retail and allow new communities to be created where people live, shop, socialise and thrive.
- Continue to push the Building Better, Building Beautiful drive to encourage quality and volume in tandem, not one at the expense of the other.
- Encourage SME housebuilders to deliver more homes, SME’s can contribute many homes yearly that are of the highest quality. The sites they typically build on are smaller and less complex and can be delivered more predictably and quickly than the hundred-plus home sites typically favoured by large housebuilders.
- Streamline the planning system to actively discourage political self interest in the decision-making process. Retaining the status quo is not an option; we must change in order to progress.
- Encouraging expansion of shared ownership schemes to allow more flexibility and opportunity for potential homeowners to have a stake in their community.
It is clear therefore that housebuilding and our industry can be a beacon of economic hope once we have come through this crisis. This will require financial investment, time and the political will to bring about effective change.
Chartfield Homes is open for business and always looking for new sites to develop beautifully conceived and constructed homes that are far from ordinary. https://chartfieldhomes.com/
Chartfield Consulting is open for business and we are seeking new clients to assist in maximising the value of their landholdings. https://chartfieldconsulting.co.uk/