Housing Forum chief executive David Crewe has urged the government to start building new towns again as a way of solving the housing crisis.
The proposal comes after calls by the Royal Town Planning Institute for more green-belt land to be freed up for housing.

As part of a Building survey of construction industry experts on the future of housing, Crewe urged the government to make use of its existing powers to establish new towns.

He told Building: "Building new towns is something that the government really can do. There is a new towns act in existence that gives provision for land assembly."

Crewe added that new communities are a good way of creating sustainable developments, providing a wide range of housing and fuelling economic activity.

CABE chairman Sir Stuart Lipton added that London needed a single agency to co-ordinate delivery of housing. He said the government and the mayor should join forces to establish a single housing regeneration agency.

He said: "London needs a plan and it cannot wait until 2004 for the mayor's spatial development framework."

Building new towns is something that the government can do

David Crewe, chief executive, Housing Forum

He added that London required a development framework that covered all the competing interests involved in housing and identified strategic brownfield housing sites in London and the South-east.

Lipton also urged the construction industry to become more innovative financially, particularly in delivering mixed-use, mixed-tenure schemes.

Last week RTPI president Michael Haslam said cities should be able to expand into the green belt. He said there were tensions between green-belt policy and the government's desire to see more sustainable housing.

He said: "If existing cities are not allowed to expand outwards then developers will have to leapfrog over green-belt land and expand into the next villages and market towns."