Report says fund key cities to unlock 100,000 more homes a year

A report by the think tank Centre for Cities believes England can build 100,000 homes more each year by unlocking stalled housing sites to create an immediate economic boost.

In its annual report on the economic performance of the country’s cities and large towns, the Centre for Cities says housebuilding is the key to economic recovery.

According to the Cities Outlook 2013 report, published today, current government forecasts suggest that 232,000 new homes per year in England should be built to keep up with projected household growth.

Yet the think tank says that housebuilding in the UK as a whole has only exceeded this level once in the past 30 years, and for the past two years it has languished around the 140,000 homes a year mark.

It argues that the shortfall has been caused by “decades of failed housing policy” in which successive governments have not taken account of the varied housing needs of each city.

The report says that the best way to make up the housing numbers, and create short-term growth, is to kick-start stalled housing schemes that have planning permission but not been built.

It calls for the government to focus this policy on cities where economic growth is strong, demand for housing is high and affordability, in terms of buying or renting homes, is low.

The report calls on the government to work with 10 such cities, including Oxford, London and Cambridge, using the Get Britain Building fund, a government programme aimed at unlocking stalled housing schemes.

In other cities, however, where affordability is high but demand for homes is low, such as Burnley, Bradford and Hull, a different approach is needed.

The report says they would benefit from their existing housing stock being retro-fitted and reconfigured using government funding or incentives.

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