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Britain needs three million more homes - Report

9th January 2019

A new report, published yesterday by housing charity Shelter, has stated that the UK must build three million social homes over the next 20 years if it is to solve the "housing crisis".

Authored by 16 independent commissioners, including former Labour leader Ed Miliband, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, TV architect George Clarke and Grenfell survivor Ed Daffarn, the report claims that 1.2 million homes are needed for younger families who cannot afford to buy and "face a lifetime in expensive and insecure private renting". In addition to the 1.2 million homes required for younger families the report outlined that a further 1.3 million homes are needed for homeless people and those living with a disability.

According to analysis in the report conducted by Capital Economics Building, 3.1 million new social homes would cost an average of £10.7bn a year. However, the report argues that this would be offset by savings of £60bn over 30 years if the government can make renting cheaper. Furthermore, the report stated that schemes like ‘Help to Buy’ were proving to be a less effective use of taxpayers' money in addressing the issue.

It’s not just about quantity

This latest report provides yet further evidence that the UK’s housing shortage is tantamount to a national crisis. However, while the focus is rightly on creating the volume of homes required to house the population, it is essential that the quality of those homes is also of a standard that makes them places that people want to live in.

As Ed Miliband discussed on BBC Breakfast, during the years after the Second World War consecutive governments built 120,000 new homes every year, compared to just 20,000 a year in the past decade. However, during these social building projects, which needed to deliver a quantity of builds on tight budgets, the gap was commonly bridged with the construction of the tower blocks that became synonymous with the architecture of the time.

However, with little to no communal areas these buildings were often hotbeds for crime, squalor and social dysfunction, with critics arguing that the wide open spaces between the blocks of modernist high-rises negatively impacted the sense of community. With their poorly designed communal and public spaces, the designs were often accused of creating a sense of isolation from the wider community.

Good design is critical

As such, as the nation addresses the current housing crisis it is critical that it doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the past when it comes to house building – particularly now that we have a much better understanding of the impact our built environment has on well-being. Furthermore, this must not be done based on the assumptions that the next generation of homeowners will want homes that are designed as they have been for previous generations.

As the construction sector works to produce the quantity of good quality homes required it must take into consideration a range of factors to ensure it meets the needs of a rapidly changing and evolving society. This includes the use of an increasing amount of constantly advancing technology, attitudes that are significantly shifting towards issues such as sustainability, and the environmental impact of buildings and building design. As a result, the construction sector faces a challenge when it comes to ensuring the homes it builds are homes that consumers want to live in.

These challenges were the subject of Eurocell’s recent ‘The Future Homes Report’ which surveyed 1,000 25-40-year olds on a wide range of issues including their home ownership prospects, attitudes towards sustainability credentials in future homes, views on building design and the impact on well-being, as well as their views on how homes could be made more affordable.

Good well-being at home is essential

A key area of focus for our report was not only what designs were appealing, but also what features made people feel good in their own homes. Findings included:

•        When asked about the most appealing design trends, respondents identified an eco-friendly home (29%) and open plan living (24%) as the top two most appealing, with big floor-to-ceiling windows and a minimalist look coming joint third with 23%

•        When asked what top three factors contribute to them feeling good in their own home respondents identified the amount of natural light (48%), low noise levels (39%) and feeling safe and secure (37%) as the most important. These were closely followed by access to outdoor space (36%), and the design and layout of the home (35%)

With the link between well-being and the design of our built environment so firmly evidenced, it’s clear that if the government is to avoid creating further issues down the line, solving the current crisis will be as much about quality as it is quantity.

You can download our report in full here: https://www.eurocell.co.uk/whitepaper

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