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Land for HousingIn the UK, land for housing is scarce. While availability and cost are two issues associated with land, other problems arise. For instance, with economic expansion thriving in the south, house prices are inflating even more and this coupled with enforced commuting makes difficult situations for both social and personal situations. Although a number of government publications have been released in recent years, the issue is that current policies are short-term, not addressing endemic problems that create a shortage for land for housing.

As this issue is looked at in more detail, we see a larger debate looking. First, there needs to be a way to provide sufficient homes but homes that are affordable and in the right location. Second, the problem with ongoing land shortages needs to be addressed and fixed. What government officials are looking at is that in the next 20 years, some critical areas are being presented. Most people agree that the upcoming policy structure is designed around unrealistic assumptions. The question becomes whether the supply of homes to meet the requirements can be handled in this timeframe.

As far as land for housing in the UK, people want numbers, location, and affordability. However, to address the hit of high land costs, there are simply not enough mechanisms currently in place. With the demand for additional housing requirements being completely underestimated, concerns are growing. Unfortunately, the south region is the hardest hit, today hitting around 100,000 per annum. If growth and need for land for housing continues at this rate, the problem cannot simply be swept under the carpet.

Today, 66% of household growth is projected for southern England. Of that, 20% is specifically on housing and land for housing in London. Just a few years ago, the numbers were different with 50% of new housing going up in the Midlands and northern side. Then you have the aspect of affordability. Projections show is that 63% of housing and land for housing could be met by the market sector up through 2016. The remaining 37% would rely on some type of government assistance with lower standards being the only alternative.

With the government having cut back on direct subsidies and placing an emphasis on affordable housing being provided through planning systems, the information available suggests amount of additional affordable housing via this route is small and often in places where housing and land demand, as well as job opportunities are somewhat limited. Obviously, there needs to be a better way for the government to support affordable housing and land for housing.

Regarding land for housing and housing in the UK, because supply and demand are so out of balance, there needs to be a viable, long-term solution put into action. One thing we see is Brownfield development to turn land for housing into Greenfield land. Brownfield sites were formerly the home to industrial sites where the land was contaminated by chemicals and toxins. By going through a land cleanup, the pollutants can be eliminated and the land reformed and transitioned to green, healthy land. This means that land originally deemed unsuitable for habitat could now be the ideal spot for more housing. Obviously, for areas in the south regions of the UK in particular, this provides more land on which to build.

Now, there is land for housing available in the UK but it is either Brownfield sites and is occupied by poor quality homes. However, this land also provides an opportunity for redevelopment so that better quality homes can be built for existing residents, along with new families coming into the neighbourhood. One of the primary problems is that England currently lacks having a proactive plan so planners can facilitate land for development. In addition, current policies are based on traditional values instead of looking at cities overall as functional systems. The good news however, is that we are beginning to see changes made in regard to land for housing, which is certainly moving things in the right direction.

-  James M

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