My weekly Telegraph column has made me realise how much one issue dominates in the UK
When I write about it 500,000 people read the column, rather than the normal 50,000. What’s more, when I write about other subjects, I see how often this problem is the root cause of other problems.
It is housing – or rather the lack of housing – and the failure of any government to tackle this problem.
The UK’s population is growing – and far faster than was predicted 20 years ago. This growth is concentrated in London and the South East and reflects the success of these regions.
However, house building has not kept pace with population growth. As a result huge numbers of people can no longer afford to buy homes or, increasingly, even rent them.
We need to build hundreds of thousands of extra homes a year for a decade, starting now, if we are to solve this problem. The alternative is a generation living with their parents, putting off having families and unable enjoy the life many of take for granted.
However, this cannot be a charter to pave over the greenbelt. Building on 5% of UK sounds fine until you realise that this 5% would be something like 25% of the densely populated South East where green space is needed most.
We need to build dense and build high. We need to utilise brownfield sites and build over car parks and railway lines in cuttings. We need to demolish poor-quality, low density housing built in the 70s and 80s and replace it with dense, architect-designed, mixed-use developments.
If we wanted to we could rejuvenate our town centres, cut the cost of housing and renting, and stimulate our economy in one fell swoop. All we need is the political will.
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