The great housing debate – our reaction to planning minister’s comments

The comments of Government planning minister, Nick Boles, are making waves up and down the land. Thank goodness! An interview is due to be aired on this evening’s Newsnight where he will, apparently say that  people who object to new housing developments are going to have to accept that if they want housing for their children, then open land will need to be built on.

We wouldn’t necessarily endorse all his reported sentiments but it’s extremely refreshing to see someone who recognises the serious problem of housing demand and supply and isn’t afraid of provoking much-needed debate on the subject.  Mr Boles believes that people would be more likely to accept new housing if people could be persuaded that developments would be beautiful – that presents communications problems straight away as, those of us who work in wind farm development know only too well, beauty and aesthetics are entirely subjective.

What we really need to fill the communications gap is clear and factual data on the potential impacts for our society on having too few houses to support a growing population. Also needed is quantifiable evidence of the hard impact on the economy of no change, which has benefitted in the recent past from a buoyant housing market.

Crucially, especially as a follow up to Mr Boles’ comments, there needs to be a strong statement from the Government about redefining and protecting the ‘new’ green belt. This would provide reassurance to the many people and organisations concerned with protecting the countryside that the latest coverage is not just about crisis management or political expediency, but there is a well thought through strategy behind plans for housing growth.

So let’s hope that this debate is moved on with timely, clear, concise and factual communication and that the message of the essential need for more housing development is heard and spread by people in all communities.

Date posted: November 28, 2012