Warning of potential housing crisis
Ed FossA looming house building crisis could be on the horizon as the new coalition government moves to tackle the economic deficit, according to a leading national housing body and a senior Norfolk councillor.Ed Foss
A looming house building crisis could be on the horizon as the new coalition government moves to tackle the economic deficit, according to a leading national housing body and a senior Norfolk councillor.
The chief executive of the National Housing Federation (NHF) warned at the weekend that radical changes to the planning system combined with threatened funding cuts could deal a 'devastating blow' to people waiting for social housing.
Meanwhile, Norwich City Council leader Steve Morphew said the government's 'swift move from wanting to cut the deficit to considering public spending as a bad thing' meant there was potentially a 'very poor outlook' for the house building sector, which he said could have wider economic impacts.
Mr Morphew said the prospect of a fall in the number of houses built in the Norwich area 'worries the life out of me'.
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'As much as anything, if there is a shortage of housing in the market as the economy starts to recover, we will have a house price boom,' said Mr Morphew.
'So those at the bottom of the housing ladder will inevitably be the ones to suffer. It will affect the most vulnerable and people starting out with families.
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'We will continue to lobby like hell for these houses to be built.'
The key need for government ministers was for them to draw a distinction between spending and investment, added Mr Morphew, recognising that house building was an important generator of both jobs and money.
'What must be avoided is this political anti public sector spending dogma.
'The need for new homes has not gone away.'
Under the previous government thousands of homes were due to be built in and around Norwich, with the Greater Norwich Development Partnership, made up of councillors from various councils, overseeing the work. There now hangs a question mark over the future of these plans.
David Orr, chief executive of the NHF, told housing minister Grant Shapps he was 'alarmed' by some of the new government's pronouncements.
He said cuts to this year's housing budget, the announcement of a funding black hole for already earmarked developments, the ending of the regional housing targets, the crackdown on so-called garden grabbing and the scrapping of the density directive have together removed most of the tools that facilitate the building of affordable housing in one fell swoop.
Mr Orr said the number of affordable homes built in England this year could fall by 65pc to just 20,390, the lowest annual total since 1990/91.
Mr Shapps said: 'Houses cannot be built by targets that don't work with money that doesn't exist.
'Rather than being told what to build and where, communities will be able to develop their own vision for their place.'