An independent poll conducted for KPMG showed that 69 per cent of people feel there is not enough affordable housing in the UK. The natural solution is to build more houses, but local politics driven by general opposition to new homes can be a barrier. While there are many reasons for local opposition, the survey shows that threats to the level of provision of key services are by far the largest concern.
Inevitably other concerns still abound, with 43 per cent of people feeling new homes would impact on green space, 46 per cent feeling there’s an issue with finding space to build, and 37 per cent believing new homes will affect house prices.
However, the poll reveals that concerns around impact on health services are far higher. Some 55 per cent of people believe new homes will impact on health provision and 67 per cent think developers should have to contribute towards improvements in local health services.
Education also arose as a major concern, with 62 per cent of people feeling that new developments should only be built if school places increase, and 42 per cent confirming that they feel new homes impact on school places.
With 39 per cent feeling that new homes have a negative impact on local jobs and 38 per cent that developments have a negative impact on transport, it is clear that concerns over house prices have fallen well down the list.
“It is clear that people are concerned that the services they rely on will be affected if new homes are built, while at the same time recognising we need more housing. We need to tackle this because these are exactly the sort of concerns which lead to campaigns against new developments and the refusal of planning permission.
“In many cases, the people petitioning have a point. There are areas where our health and education services are already overstretched and more people moving in would be a huge burden. This is why we need far better integration between the NHS, the Department for Education and the housing sector. We must get better at either building new homes at the same time as providing new services, or building new homes where sufficient available services already exist. If we do this and prove to the public that integration works, we can start to get over this hurdle of public opinion.
“Devolution can help, where housing, education and hospitals are taken under the remit of the local region, as in Manchester. Developers’ contributions to local infrastructure through section 106 agreements could then be allocated more widely, for example to buy more maternity beds in a local hospital or a new classroom for a school. More broadly, it’s a good idea to give those who know the needs of a locality the power to decide how housing and services fit together. Devolution also plays well into the issues raised around jobs and transport – these are all major concerns to local people, and a more local approach to dealing with the whole integration piece would work well.
“There is scope to turn this situation from a negative into a positive. If we integrate housing into health, education and other important services new homes will become a boon to a community – they could see new schools, A&E wards re-opening rather than closing, extra trains being put on to cope with a larger population, benefiting those moving in as well as those who are already settled. While this alone won’t fix the housing crisis, changing people’s perceptions will help overcome the ‘not in my back yard’ mentality, and help ensure new developments receive support rather than condemnation. Our social, transport and health infrastructure are planned and run by a patchwork of different organisations – joining these up more with housing infrastructure is a no brainer .”
KPMG published a report with Shelter in 2014, entitled ‘Building The Homes We Need’, and has since campaigned for a definitive plan to tackle the housing crisis. KPMG continues to call for land and planning reform, provision of Government funding diversification of the house building sector to encourage new developers into the market, and more power given to local authorities.
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Notes to Editors
Poll data: KPMG commissioned an online survey from independent agency, Red Dot. The survey targeted 10,000 nationally representative people across the UK. The KPMG/Shelter report mentioned above can be found at: http://www.thehomesweneed.org.uk/
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This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.