Poll finds people do not want high-density brownfield housing

A poll conducted by the House Builders Federation shows widespread concern over brownfield building and has called for greater flexibility over planning guidance to include greenfield land where necessary.

The survey looked at the crisis in housing supply, particularly in affordability, and found that 95% of people think that buying a first home is financially difficult and that more and more people are seeking financial assistance from relatives.

It called for an additional 70,000 – 120,000 homes to be built each year, as recommended by Kate Barker in her Review of Housing Supply last year.

However, it also found that two-thirds of people surveyed expressed concern at the consequences of government policy that seeks to build higher density housing on brownfield land.

The poll found that 64% of people said: “The area I live in could not accommodate more new housing at higher densities, e.g. flats and townhouses.”

“This poll shows the depth of the affordability crisis,” said Rob Ashmead, Chief Executive of the House Builders Federation. “People know how serious the housing problem is and are concerned that building at higher densities on brownfield land may not address their needs. The next government must focus on increasing supply, not subsidising demand, if a long-term solution to the housing shortage is to be secured.”

This, of course, raises the question of where the houses would be built.

A spokesperson for the Federation told edie that there needed to be greater flexibility in planning policy guidance 3 (PPG3) so that each case can be assessed on its merits, not just by rigid government guidelines.

“It is just a fact that people aspire toward owning a detached, or semi detached house in the suburbs or the country,” she said. “We have to respond to that and be able to provide that style of housing. In some cases this would mean using greenfield land where alternatives don’t exist or don’t meet the needs of the local population.”

She stressed that this would only mean a very prudent use of greenfield land in response to need, and would not signal a concreteing-over of the countryside.

Building on greenfield sites would, of course, be cheaper as the land would not have to be cleaned up or assessed in the same way, maximising the returns for any house-builders.

By David Hopkins

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