Local government holds a once in a lifetime opportunity to shape the communities in which we live
Although the challenge is great, the housing crisis facing Britain is a once-in-a-century opportunity to transform the way we will live for generations to come. The crisis should be used as an opportunity to reflect, to learn from the terrible mistakes of the past and provide creative and innovative solutions which can help us meet future challenges.
A revitalised local government holds the keys to unlock this crisis. Councils can and should become leaders of new housing development again, not just regulators of it. By pooling their pension fund assets in an independently managed £10bn Local Housing Development Fund, they can become investors in their local communities, using their powers and assets to create great places for people to live and attractive investment opportunities for institutions.
We must now re-frame the debate around housing. It must start, first and foremost, with the needs of consumers and of the communities within which they live. We should not be referring to units, or numbers of bedrooms. We should be talking about homes, about communities and people. Only by building homes that people want in communities that stand the test of time, can we counter opposition to development and create the value that local authorities, developers and investors should be seeking.
The problems and potential solutions to the housing crisis are interconnected. We have highlighted the systemic market failure inherent within UK housing and concluded that a holistic approach is needed that tackles every element of that failure as one - the way that new homes are designed, planned, financed and marketed needs to improve and this action must be co-ordinated.
We hope that we can stimulate debate and prompt those with a stake in housing to reconsider their role within it. The challenge is great, but the social, economic and environmental benefits of getting it right are far greater.
Sir John Banham is chair of the Future Homes Commission