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What’s wrong with our housing system?

  • by JW

The statistics and the developers…

“How the grim cycle of low supply, high prices and poor quality homes is relentlessly perpetuated by vested interests.”


There is a lot wrong with our housing system – that’s very clear from the government’s own attempts to set things right:

Budget 2020 and housing – Vision Group for Sidmouth

New housing to get ‘automatic’ permission – Vision Group for Sidmouth

But there have been a lot of misgivings from many quarters about the latest foray into reforms:

Housing reforms: revolt and reports from the shires – Vision Group for Sidmouth


Where does the blame lie, then, for this mess?


The Statistics:

One area has been confusion over the numbers – whether it’s the number of current homes or actual housing need.:

Calculating Devon’s housing need by algorithm – Vision Group for Sidmouth

The housing supply needed for East Devon – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And this area has been expertly analysed by Julian Mercer at the Byline Times:

The Government Cannot Build its Way Out of England’s Housing Crisis – Byline Times

Lies, Damned Lies and Housing Statistics – Byline Times


The Developers:

Another area of concern which has needed some thorough analysis has been over who owns and who builds on the land.

One very obvious issue is ‘land-banking’, as covered once again, this time by the Mirror:

Greedy developers sitting on land for 1 million homes despite housing crisis – Mirror Online

In April, Oliver Wainwright, architect correspondent at the Guardian, went deeper:

In the eyes of Bob Colenutt … in his urgent new book, The Property Lobby, he identifies the RICS as one of numerous actors in a complex network of landowners, housebuilders, financial backers, professional bodies and politicians who are engaged in propping up the status quo to ensure that their interests prosper – at the expense of everyone else. The housing crisis is no accident, he argues, but the calculated product of an elite group who have no reason to fix it…

Combining the methodical precision of an academic with the persuasive passion of a radical campaigner, Colenutt identifies how we got into this situation, and provides several suggestions for a possible way out. In succinct chapters, he lays out the structure of what he calls the “finance-housebuilding complex”, explaining how the housebuilding business works, how housing finance underpins the entire UK economy, how the powerful network of lobbying groups operates, how it has shaped planning policy, and how the grim cycle of low supply, high prices and poor quality homes is relentlessly perpetuated by vested interests…

Fatcat developers created our housing crisis. Here’s how to stop them |

Policy Press | The Property Lobby – The Hidden Reality behind the Housing Crisis, By Bob Colenutt


Clyst St Mary development:

An example of overdevelopment, playing the numbers game and developers seeming to benefit rather more than other players is on the outskirts of small rural community in East Devon:

Winslade Park | burringtonestates

Winslade Park Exeter | A Stunning Parkland Development

It has now been passed by the District Council:

Green light for Clyst St Mary new homes, office space and fitness facilities

However, back in 2017, there were concerns about overdevelopment:

‘Grave reservations’ about plans to build 150 homes on ‘high risk flood zone’ – Devon Live

And this piece from the EDW site from October highlights the issues around overdevelopment by the developers and the use and abuse of numbers: