Ways to Overcome Housing Crisis

James Hopkins, executive chairman of Hopkins Homes, says that unless the party or coalition in power after today's election takes determined action, there will simply not be enough places for people to live.

He says action is needed to:

* Ensure there is a common understanding of the need for housing across the country, so everyone works towards a single agenda.

* Make the link between housing growth and community benefits more explicit so good quality developments enhance a neighbourhood and, depending on their size, bring new facilities and community assets.

* Invest in the infrastructure - schools, roads and health care services - with Government as well as developers contributing.

* Improve the environment for residents by insisting on quality to create attractive developments.

* And speed up the planning process.

Mr Hopkins said: "If we don't start to address this immediately we face the prospect of a generation of young people unable to buy their own homes and a crisis of accommodation. "That's without mentioning the totally inadequate supply of retirement homes for people later in life. Quite simply we won't have places for people to live. At the heart of the problem lies the current planning regime that pits developers against communities in an increasingly bitter confrontation.

"In my experience planning applications for new homes are more often than not resisted by local people already with homes who worry about increased traffic and pressure on local services and can see no direct benefit to them of more houses. As a result it takes far too long to get permission to build and our shortage of housing continues. It doesn't have to be like this. Communities and developers should - in contrast - be united in a common objective to provide homes for local people. The discussion should then be about the details of house type, public open space, design features and service provision, not the principle of whether there should be any houses at all."

He said the UK needs to build at least 200,000 new homes per year to alleviate demand but last year only 120,000 were completed.