Philip Hammond announced in the budget at the end of 2017 that the government were committed to building 300’000 new homes each year but where are they going to go?
The Chancellor announced that England would build 300’000 new homes in a raft of new measures to fix “Britain’s housing market” along with a string of other measures in the latest Autumn Budget.
The question we’re asked is where they’ll go, especially with Leicester City Council earmarking nearly half a million pounds of taxpayer money to buy-back ex-council properties sold under the Right to Buy scheme? One could argue the city councils aren’t quite in tune with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
It is important to note that the goal of three hundred thousand new homes to be built each year announced by Philip Hammond is to be achieved by 2025 but even with a lengthy timeline to meet the objective, where will these new homes go? How will the government achieve their goal when we take into consideration that almost 69% of land in Leicester already being built on and rising house prices in Leicester.
Things appear to be moving along, though. Leicester City Council has backed the £50 million development set for Vaughan Way and Great Central near Leicester West End.
Where are the new homes going to go?
When we ask where the new homes will be built, it is important to realise that the chancellor may not be talking about new houses exclusively. The phrased used in the Autumn Budget 2017 was “new homes” and as such, we can expect this to mean anything habitable on a long-term basis, including high rise blocks of flats, single units and alternative accommodation.
It is likely that local authorities will back more developments similar to Project Medius and Great Central, not to mention the approved planning permission for 73 new apartments to be built in Leicester City Centre!
It is also far more likely that Leicester Council will be looking for properties they can purchase with the already mentioned earmarked fund for repurchasing homes sold under Right to Buy as well as other plans such as Planned Licensing which, like Nottingham’s Selective Licensing, will see some landlords exit the market and sell their investments (which we advise against as being a landlord or owning buy to let properties in Leicester is still one of the soundest investments you can have in Leicester, we regularly report on the thriving nature of the Leicester Property Market).
Are flats really what we have to look forward to as the future of housing?
One thing that is common with high rise blocks of flats and other crisis-driven properties is that they typically end up becoming an eyesore once the new-build appeal wears off, in the late 1950’s, the St Matthew’s, St Mark’s, St Peter’s and the Rowlatts Hill estates were being built after the end of World War Two in 1946 when it was announced that 10’000 new homes were needed to house the soldiers coming home and to replace the homes which had been destroyed in bombings. By 1951, only 4’000 of these new homes had been built which was when local authorities were really forced to pull their socks up and erect prefabricated buildings.
Leicester University said;
“Prior to 1945 many people lived in red brick pre-1914 terraced streets. New council housing had been built between the wars at Coleman Road, Saffron Lane and Braunstone, while many privately owned semi-detached houses had also been built around the city. For most people, though, life was lived in a terraced street. If the street had been built before building regulations were tightened at the end of the 19th century, it was looking pretty run down by the end of the 1940s. Walls were often only a single brick in width, toilets were outside, there was no central heating, lighting could still be gas rather than electricity, conditions were damp. A huge slum clearance programme demolished the older housing and moved residents into new housing, usually on the outskirts of the city”.
Leicester University goes on to explain that at one point in New Parks, Leicester, 164 homes were built over 164 days which is astonishing given the slow rate of development we sometimes experience in Leicester in modern times.
But moving back to the question about flats being all we have to look forward to; this may not be the case at all. Only 6.05% of the 68.94% of Leicester that is already built on is what’s known as “high-density urban fabric”, where urban fabric is the buildings, thoroughfares and other features that make up our towns and cities; this includes residential and commercial premises, shopping centres, markets and pedestrianised areas and more, everything that is the make-up of our cities. High-density is as it sounds, a large amount of the above crammed into a small space.
So, we have just over 6% of more than half of Leicester which is built upon to a high-density, this means there’s far more green space than you might realise. Look at Abbey Park and other large green spaces which are designated for public use, these contribute to the areas of Leicester which is already built on.
Reconsidering the amount of land which is already built on, could it be plausible that we may see some areas redeveloped to allow a higher density of residents to live in Leicester? We think so. We have already seen funding being pulled from public spaces, it wasn’t a too distant past that we were crying for our children’s play parks to be saved from removal due to funding to maintain them being removed and in Thurmaston, we had the 300 houses being built around The Warren off Barkby Thorpe Road where everybody had “Not in my Backyard” signs in their windows. Look at it now, there is still continuous development in the area.
Onyx Cresent, another development of semi-detached properties in Thurmaston which was erected in a speedy manner, in fact, the managing director of Harry Albert Lettings & Estates was working for a landscaping company who was responsible for the gardens on the new-build properties, also demonstrates how land can be recycled for development.
The point is, for the government to achieve their target of 300’000 new homes to be built each year by 2025, especially with Leicester’s, in particular, rapidly growing population, Leicester residents will need to able to accept those new developments in Leicester will become a more common occurence over the next few years whilst Leicester City Council also need to ensure fairness and consideration is extended to the same residents, not like the recent decision to dispose of the prime central location which Leicester City Council used to stand on before its demolition to developers for a mere £24’000.