The social divide fueled by the housing crisis means that without urgent reforms, Britain faces a real threat of political unrest and extremism, warned the author of a new report on DIY.
The need to diversify the housing sector is vital if we are to avoid becoming “two nations,” said Richard Bacon in a report calling for the establishment of a new custom delivery unit within Homes England.
The Tory MP was hired by Boris Johnson in April to develop a plan for a major increase in self-commissioned new homes across all terms in order to increase capacity and overall housing supply.
Both men state that creating more opportunities for consumers to participate in the provision of housing is key to tackling the housing shortage and broader societal problems.
Bacon’s report, which was released this weekend and fits right into the government’s beauty agenda, includes a total of six recommendations (see box below) and a number of dire warnings.
It was welcomed by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, who promised “to look into it fully and act on recommendations in due course”.
“The introduction of the ‘Help to Build’ equity loan program will fundamentally transform the home and bespoke construction market, allowing individuals to borrow lower-deposit loans that can be used to design and build their new home,” added the minister added.
- Bigger role for Homes England
The government should establish a new custom and self-built housing delivery unit within Homes England to facilitate the creation of managed building lots on plots large and small and to support the provision of custom and self-built housing across the country.
- Raising awareness of the right to build
The government, in partnership with Homes England in partnership with the DIY and DIY industry, should create a DIY and DIY show park and strengthen existing legislation to allow a wider public for DIY and DIY registries and key data sharing between Landowners and persons in registers.
- Support community-run living, a variety of offers and leveling up
The government should revive the successful Community Housing Fund; Creating accessible opportunities for communities to help themselves by introducing a self-help housing program; and introduce a plot of land for rent.
- Promote greener homes and make greater use of advanced manufacturing processes
The government should recognize and support the pioneering role of the bespoke and self-built housing sector in advanced manufacturing and greener homes in order to accelerate the implementation of its broader ambitions in modern construction and net-zero housing.
- Support the individual and self-built house construction through the planning reforms
The government should ensure that the planning reforms in their White Paper, Planning for the Future, maximize opportunities for access to approved land for self-construction (CSB) across all terms, including targeted changes to the right to build legislation to ensure that it achieves its goals.
The government should investigate the perceived disadvantages in the tax system between the CSB delivery model and other forms of housing and, if necessary, identify specific measures to neutralize them.
The recommendations were welcomed by the lobby group of the National Custom and Self Build Association (SCSBA) and the enabling company Custom Build Homes, both of which were involved in an advisory capacity.
NaCSBA boss Andrew Baddeley-Chappell said the government had to provide more land for self-construction and “open the public’s eyes to the possibilities”.
Bacon extensively cites Nicholas Boys Smith, author of Living with Beauty and chairman of the government’s new Office for Place for Mass Housing and the ongoing five-year “Soviet-style” plans.
“The consequences are blatant,” he writes. “Quite simply, new living space is feared. At no other time in our history would housing be considered pollution. Our country has a growing population, an aging housing stock and a younger generation who are priced off home ownership – and for whom even renting a home costs too much of their income. We have to build more new houses. “
“It tears deep cracks in the fabric of our society,” he adds.
“The stakes couldn’t be higher. The current housing situation threatens labor mobility and the prosperity of the economy as a whole. It’s already a strategic issue affecting large employers looking to hire the best people. This is now causing couples to postpone parenting because they are concerned about how they can ever afford suitable housing for a family. It is eroding social capital and could easily fuel political unrest and extremism. We run the risk of becoming Two Nations – a nation in which an entire generation has difficulty finding accommodation, while the other is expanding its portfolio of purchases and rentals. “
Part of the problem, he argues, is a planning system that allows land to be rationed that has “inflated prices, stifled the size of new homes and gardens, blunted innovation and constrained production”.
“It is also hard-wired in the system. Apparently we should just accept that land appears almost exclusively as large strategic locations. And we should also simply accept that individuals, communities and small builders who want to build houses – as they have been doing for centuries – simply have no access to the real estate market. “
See also: Nicholas Boys Smith Interview Part 1: A Man on a Mission
If the housing market and the planning process are opened up to “consumer choice”, we will create homes that are “better designed, better built, greener, cheaper to run and enrich the lives of the people who live there”. – while driving innovation and foreign investment, ”he said.
“Homes England – which is part of the making of markets – is playing a key role in boosting this market – and my core recommendation is to set up a Custom & Self-Build Delivery Unit with the mandate to make the necessary changes with qualified staff with comprehensive professionals Experience in providing customer-specific and self-created projects for customers in all terms of office. “
Bacon found that the UK is growing about 13,000 home-built and bespoke homes each year, which taken together makes the sector one of the larger national home builders, but tiny when compared to other countries. In Germany, at 55%, it is the dominant method of providing new living space.
He also names the Netherlands and the managed properties for the special construction in the new town of Almere.
He also finds projects in the UK to be praised, including the Bright Green Futures-led pilot project The Courtyard in Bristol, in which four low-energy rental apartments were co-designed and partly built by tenants.