Headlines: November 9th, 2005

There is deep seated concern among planners over the Government’s planned market-led approach to future housing provision, according to research published today to coincide with a conference on housing. The research was commissioned by the CPRE, whose Chief Executive Shaun Spiers will make a keynote speech at the event.Mr Spiers will use his speech to challenge the Government’s proposals to give market signals, such as house prices, a leading role in the planning process. He will call instead for more investment in subsidised homes, for rent and for home ownership for those people who are priced out of the housing market.

Today’s conference, “Housing Crisis: Beyond Predict and Provide” comes as the Government finalises its response to the Barker Review of ways to meet the nation’s housing needs. Mr. Spiers will tell the event, “We need to think about homes in the same way as we’re starting to think about cars, flying and electrical appliances. People may want more and more of these things, demand seems almost infinite as incomes and prosperity keep on rising, but we have to wrestle with the environmental consequences.”

He recognises, though, that high house prices put home ownership out of reach of millions of people across the country, and there is a danger of a growing gulf between the housing haves and have-nots. The Government believes the best way to tackle housing problems is to increase supply in response to market demand. The CPRE says analysis of responses to official consultation on the proposals shows concern is widespread among housing and planning experts with the main worries being that it fails to address the lack of affordable housing, requires local authorities to release more greenfield land, including Green Belt; undermines urban regeneration and worsens regional disparities.

Mr. Spiers will call for stronger policies to bring about more even growth between English regions to reduce pressures in the most environmentally stressed areas, measures to cut demand and for more focus on urban regeneration and bringing empty homes back into use.