Following recent news that the number of homes for sale has plunged to its lowest level since 1978, the Chartered Institute of Housing suggest that older generations are blocking new developments despite the nation’s housing shortage reaching ‘emergency proportions.’ Are existing homeowners being unreasonable by opposing new-build properties in picturesque towns and villages?
Governing Board member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and vice-Chair of TPAS, Alison Inman has said that those who live in the countryside must realise their home was once built on untouched countryside, therefore it is hypocritical to block younger generations from doing the same.
Speaking at CIH hosted event ‘Housing 2015,’ Alison said “I think some of these people should volunteer to have their own houses knocked down – because it was beautiful, pristine countryside before their house was built. We have got to bottom out this issue of nimbyism.”
“There is loads more land devoted to golf courses than there are to people in Surrey. I think there is more land for horses in this country than there is for people, and we just get really weird about where we build stuff.”
The former head of the civil service, Lord Kerslake also urged older British homeowners be more open-minded “if you (sic) want your children to have a chance in life.”
Some blame the distinct lack of housing on previous governments’ failings to prioritise housebuilding, with Thatcherite schemes such as buy-to-let taking even more homes out of the market, out of the reach of prospective first time buyers.
Due to recent pension insecurities, investing in property has increasingly been seen as a lucrative way to secure a financially safe retirement. This has boosted “buying-to-let” in the UK, putting further strain on first time buyers. A survey by the Office for National Statistics found that 42% believe investing in property was the best way to “make the most of your money;” a stark comparison to the 26% who believe that contributing to a workplace pension scheme would be the best option for financing a retirement.
Director at estate agent Savills, Lucien Cook commented “Rental income is extremely secure as there is rising demand from younger generations struggling to get on the housing ladder. We have to take a positive view to new housing. If you want your children or your friends’ and family’s children to have a chance in life, you have to be open to new housing in your area. People resist change. If you are used to an open space in front of you, the thought of it being developed is intrinsically something you worry about.”
Labour Mayor of the London boroughof Newham, Sir Robin Wales epitomised the issue perfectly, telling the conference “We benefited from generous pensions, we were free from the burden of student debt and we were able to acquire our properties cheap and then reap the rewards of soaring house prices. It’s not fair if we got on and pulled the ladder up. That’s morally unacceptable.”