What makes Homes for Britain unique is that for the first time the whole of housing is coming together to ask government for the same thing – to end the housing crisis within a generation.
Housing associations, house-builders, architects, private landlords, town planners and homeless charities are all backing the campaign. And this collaborative, long-term approach is exactly what we need from our politicians.
For something so fundamental to the country’s social and economic success, housing has historically been viewed as a personal rather than political problem. It is your fault if you can’t afford the rent; your problem if you can’t save the deposit to secure a stake in your own home.
Thankfully, that is changing. Housing is moving up the list of voters’ priority issues ahead of the General Election, and we need to make sure it stays there when we head to the polls in May.
It is no surprise housing is getting the attention it deserves. The average deposit for a first-time buyer is £30,000. People who rent privately spend an average of 40% of their income on rent.
In Newbury, where we hosted our Homes for Britain event yesterday, house prices have increased by 8%over the last year, with the average home now costing £260,000.
Worryingly, we are hearing from all our local authority partners that homelessness is a real and growing issue for them in the south east.
So, how do you solve a problem like housing?
Of course we need the right building blocks of land, investment and planning to help us achieve the target of doubling the number of homes built every year, but we need to start by working together.
We need to approach the problem in a new way, bridging housing and politics, to build quality, affordable homes based on local need.
The 1,500 home development has been made possible thanks to a great vision and relationship between Newbury Racecourse and David Wilson Homes, ourselves and the local council. The development is delivering high quality apartments, family homes, shared ownership opportunities and a variety of rental options.
It is a scheme designed by the community for the community. And we’ll keep investing in the community and our residents there, to support sustainability and help them achieve their aspirations.
Down the road at Kersey Crescent, we are working in a joint venture partnership with David Wilson Homes to regenerate four run-down blocks of two-bedroom flats into a new community with 78 homes for rent, shared ownership and outright sale. Again, the scheme would not be going ahead without the backing of West Berkshire Council.
This is the kind of partnership we need to continue to build upon. We can deliver more homes, of the right type, than we could working on our own.
It was great to be part of the Homes for Britain relay as it builds towards the rally in Westminster on 17 March. I hope that politicians will join us there, agree to set out a long-term plan within a year of taking office, and join us all in our efforts to make sure that everyone has a quality, affordable home.