FREER op-eds on housing

Here’s Simon Clarke writing about his new FREER paper in the Sunday Telegraph:

For a generation, demand for new homes has far outstripped supply.  The consequences have been as depressing as they are inevitable. Housing costs in the UK are among the highest in the world, both in absolute terms and relative to average incomes.

The problem is greatest where new homes are most needed.  Last year, housing starts soared 20 per cent in Wales, but crept up only 1 per cent in London, precisely where the housing market is most unaffordable.  In the wider South East, there was no growth at all.

This is why we need to reform the elephant in the room when it comes to our national housing debate: the Green Belt.

In my new FREER paper, out on Monday, I argue that we should lift restrictions on new housebuilding across England within a half a mile of existing railway, underground, and tram stations,, where that land is not subject to protected environmental classification.  This simple move would free up enough land for 1.5 million new homes.

Click here to read the full piece

And here’s FREER Director Rebecca Lowe writing about it for The Times Red Box:

Releasing green belt land for housing purposes involves a classic trade-off. You free up space to build the homes that people desperately need, but you lose some fields and some bees along the way.

What if the green belt wasn’t so green, however? What if we could address the serious supply-side problems preventing greater homeownership, while also providing better protections for genuinely environmentally valuable land?

A consensus has long been growing about the urgent need to solve what has universally become known as the housing crisis. House prices are rising; rents are rising; an increasing number of people can no longer conceive of ever owning their own home.

There is also a growing consensus about the reasons for this. Income increases and population growth have led to demand for new homes well outpacing supply, and severe restrictions on building and adapting houses leave us unable to catch up.

Click here to read the full piece

Click here to read the Sunday Telegraph’s coverage of the paper