Press Release Summary: The future of the housing market has been the subject of so much conjecture and debate that the list of considerations is notably long. No less than 37 issues have been identified in the Calcutt report released today
Press Release Body: The future of the housing market has been the subject of so much conjecture and debate that the list of considerations is notably long. No less than 37 issues have been identified in the Calcutt report released today, if the number of recommendations is any guide.
John Calcutt, formerly chief executive of English Partnerships, was tasked last year by the government with finding ways the target of building 240,000 new homes a year up to 2016 could be achieved. Apart from the sheer number, the issues of zero carbon building and avoiding concreting over the greenbelt were also included in his remit.
The report which emerged has nonetheless argued that all these things are achievable, which will be of interest to anyone concerned with the property market, be they looking at the residential sector or the prospects for buy-to-let, since building more homes is relevant to meeting increases in demand in both.
Mr Calcutt\'s review listed a number of ways this could occur which were condensed into five specific propositions. He argued that what was needed were more incentives for the public and private sectors alike, more public sector efforts to develop infrastructure where new developments might take place, better regulation, more government help in the zero carbon field and more community management.
The government responded with five ideas of its own, with housing minister Yvette Cooper outlining how new standards, regulations and support would be produced to aid the task. One of these was to provide a new strict definition of what defined a substantial start to a development, since some developments had been left lying idle with nothing more than a trench dug.
Ms Cooper said: \"As John rightly acknowledges, this is an extremely challenging target but attainable - we are absolutely committed and there will be no wavering\", signaling the government\'s determination to tackle the problem as well, perhaps, as realising the political price of failure.
One key element may be the success of another of Ms Cooper\'s proposals; to ensure councils fast-track land for development. Welcoming the news that Mr Calcutt did not believe the greenbelt would have to sacrificed to build houses, Neil Sinden, policy director for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England said: \"Planners are seriously underestimating the amount of brownfield land that can be redeveloped\" and called for a target of 75 per cent of new homes to be built on such land by 2011.
Failing to solve the housing crisis will have a political price for the government. So too might any controversy over greenbelt building. In declaring that concentrating on brownfield development can meet the target, Mr Calcutt has set a challenge which must be met. If it is not, the consequences will also be significant for the property industry.
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