Thursday 2 February 2017 12:02 am

Nimbyism in decline as housing shortage bites

The construction of new homes is now a top five priority for voters, with increasing numbers of people willing to support housing projects in their local area.

A report by the Centre for Policy Studies, a think tank, suggests attitudes to new builds have changed dramatically over the last ten years.

Citing a British Social Attitudes survey, the authors said 21 per cent of respondents opposed new housing in their local area, down from 46 per cent in 2010. The same survey indicated that in 2014, 56 per cent of respondents would have supported the construction of new homes, up from 28 per cent in 2010.

“The importance of housing to the electorate reflects the fact that there are simply not enough places for people to live in,” the report says.

“With house prices continuing to rise far faster than wages, the need for new housing has never been greater.”

The authors suggest the government will not meet its target to build one million new homes by 2020 unless it takes radical action. They recommend simplifying planning rules, reducing tension between developers and residents through “special purpose vehicles” and the introduction of so-called “pink zones” where planning red tape is reduced to help ease the way for developments.

The Centre for Policy Studies cited a number of figures that had shown interest in their pink zones policy, including Peter Lilley MP, Lord Salisbury and Steve Norris, non-exec chairman of BNP Paribas real estate.

Limited housing supply is specifically failing the millennial generation, with increasingly expensive homes benefitting young people who have access to inherited wealth. Prime Minister Theresa May has said the growing wealth divide and shortage of homes for young people is a key concern for her government.

The delayed housing white paper is expected to be put forward by communities secretary Sajid Javid next week. Yesterday a senior MP told City A.M. that “Tory infighting” was responsible for the delays to the paper, which had initially been due for publication alongside the chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

Authors of the new report, lawyer Daniel Greenberg and economist Keith Boyfield, said the start of 2017 is “the moment of maximum opportunity” for UK housing policy and urged the government to make next week’s white paper as bold as the 1979 housing white paper introduced by Michael Heseltine.

“The economic consequences of failure would also be considerable”, they say.

“By tying up significant sums in unproductive assets, high house prices contribute to the UK’s low productivity”.

"They also distort the labour market and force many working people to waste largely unproductive and uncomfortable hours commuting to work”.

“The problem can no longer be fudged”.