Industry says answer to housing crisis still lies in mainstream solutions

Source: bisgovuk

Housing experts have questioned the government’s focus on the self-build industry after housing minister Grant Shapps led a fact-finding trip to Holland.

Shapps this week travelled to Almere - billed as the largest low-cost self-build experiment in Europe - to learn lessons from the Dutch self-build industry and announced a new £30m fund for self-builders.

He was accompanied by Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud, who is aiming to raise public awareness of the benefits of self-building and help promote the industry as anambassador for the National Self-Build Association.

But Andy von Bradsky, chairman of PRP Architects, warned that self-build is “no panacea for the housing crisis”.

He said: “In the current circumstances, you need to pull all the levers you can. I think Shapps is right to pull this one, but it’s not the most important. I was in Almere in March and arguably it’s not ideal urban design. There are all sorts of issues over what is provided in terms of infrastructure.”

John Stewart, director of economic affairs at the Home Builders Federation (HBF), said: “We have an acute housing crisis and so all initiatives to increase supply are welcome. However,
self-build is only a small part of the solution and government must continue to develop main stream solutions to address the shortfall.”

This week Shapps said the self-build industry was “riding the crest of a wave”, with the number of mortgages available to self-builders set to rise by 141%. He added that more than 100,000 people are looking for self-build plots in the UK.

He said he wanted to ensure that “anyone who wants to embark on a self-build project has the opportunity to do so”.

For more on this story see Design for Homes chief executive David Birkbeck’s piece on why self build is no panacea.