LETTER OF THE DAY: Underlying the housing crisis is the rocketing price of building land

When it comes to somewhere to live the upcoming generation is likely to be worse off than their parents.

The answer is obviously to build more houses with affordable prices to buy and for those who can’t buy, to rent.

Sadly, neither is likely to happen while housing is primarily regarded as an investment vehicle whose future trajectory is upwards.

Flooding an area with new homes puts downwards pressure on prices and profits and the seven or eight large builders who dominate the sector will resist it.

There are also issues of capacity and skills and according to industry sources there is a shortage of materials and skilled manpower which could be worse when we leave the EU.

Underlying the housing crisis is the rocketing price of building land. Farming land worth about £10,000 an acre becomes a million an acre after planning consent but the community sees little of the capital gain while taxpayers get the bill for infrastructure.

The rental sector is particularly critical especially for the almost four million people dependent on private landlords.

Unlike them, social landlords must extend the right to buy to their tenants and so remove from the market thousands of homes at affordable rents which, after purchase, are sometimes offered privately at much higher rents. National housing policies are neither providing sufficient affordable quality homes, nor protecting the environment nor ensuring homes are built to the right standards in the right locations or helping people most in need of it.

Ray Cobbett

Friends of the Earth

Beach Road, Emsworth

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