Five things the government has done to worsen the housing crisis

1.Wrongly expected the volume builders to deliver for housing need

Volume house builders won't solve the housing crisis

Volume house builders won’t solve the housing crisis

The government expects the volume house builders to deliver the 240,000 extra homes we need each year. And it has cleared every obstacle to ensure the house builders get the land they need and the profits they want.  But the private sector has never built much more than 150,000 in any year and it is against their market interests to increase supply. Continue reading

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That starter homes pledge

Starter homes costing £250000?

Starter homes costing £250000?

So the promise of 200,000 starter homes will be fulfilled by ending affordable rented housing on private developments. Instead the Prime Minister has announced that developers can meet their planning gain obligations (known as S106 agreements) by building discounted homes for market sale.  These so called affordable homes can cost up to 80% of market price up to a cap of £250,000 outside London. Once again the government has demonstrated its complete misunderstanding of the role of the volume house-builders.  These private companies are not in business to meet housing need. Continue reading

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The radical roots of Garden Cities

Garden city plansGarden cities figure prominently in government aspirations for house-building these days. They seem to be the politically acceptable face of New Towns.  While garden cities have establishment support, the only really practical solution to the housing shortage – more council housing – is still political anathema. So it is worth knowing that garden cities and council housing share the same origins and are linked by the same ideals. In this article I report on the utopian movement that created the early garden cities and inspired the first council estates. Continue reading

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You make plans we make history

graffiti-ymakeplans2In this post, I explore the traditions of self-management and community control behind the rise of neighbourhood planning in England.

The desire for autonomy, for self-organisation and self-management, has been a persistent thread in the history of community action in England, as it has been in social movements across the world. The foundation of self-governing communities by religious and political dissenters in the 16th and 17th Centuries found reflection in the co-operatives, communes and mutual aid societies that signalled the making of a working class movement, and the tradition of informal settlements and community self-build that has continued into the present day. This tradition of dissident autonomy has been consistently captured and incorporated into the institutional processes and structures of the state and the market relations of capital. In its manifestation as an active and engaged civil society it has been enlisted in the privatisation and outsourcing of public services, the fragmentation of organised labour, the policing of behaviour, and the rejuvenation of moribund hierarchies through the assimilation of local knowledge. Promises of territorial autonomy made to community organisations provide the populist accompaniment to the commodification of the local as the base unit of a reordered society; a self-governing entity liberated by the dismantling of welfare systems and the de-regulation of markets. The autonomous neighbourhood is a potent symbol for the cause of liberalism and for its dissenters. It remains a site of potential conflict over definitions of freedom and empowerment. Continue reading

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Generation Rent – it’s time for action

Will we soon see the rise of a new tenants' movement?

Should generation rent look to the rent strikes and tenant protests of the past ?

With the launch of his new book about the Tenants’ Movement, Leeds Beckett author and lecturer in housing studies, Dr. Quintin Bradley looks at the pressures on ‘generation rent’ and the emerging signs of a mass popular campaign around the issues of affordable quality housing.

There are growing signs of popular protest in this country against the injustices of what the housing charity Shelter calls a ‘broken’ housing market. House prices are rising seven times faster than wages and an increasing number of households now find themselves shoehorned into private rented accommodation that is substandard, overpriced and largely unregulated.

For ‘Generation Rent’ there is little hope of anything better since house price inflation continues to force them out of ownership and the number of quality, well-managed homes in the social rented sector keeps on declining. The campaign group ‘Priced Out’ expresses the anger of a generation that has had the housing ladder kicked away from under them. Protests and demonstrations have been held outside rental agencies that appear particularly exploitative. Continue reading

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