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Where are the brave politicians? They’re the ones who’ll be remembered.

My alarm clock radio springs into life every morning and tells me about a new promise from one party or another. It’s then immediately countered by an opponent telling you why it won’t work. If I heard a bright shiny housing promise I might not drift off back to sleep until the sports news. Maybe they’ve all got plans so cunning they’ll only be revealed just before 7 May, for maximum impact? After all, they’ve each accepted there’s a housing crisis.

So far it’s sound bites rather than policies. Yet the case for building more homes is proven. Is it that it’s too difficult to agree where they’ll be built? Uber-architect Richard Rogers has said “We don’t need to overflow into new towns on greenfield sites until we’ve made the most of brownfield.” That’s sensible. But maybe we need to adopt new town tactics and establish development corporations in key areas with specific powers. Then we could achieve housing targets more rapidly whilst ensuring that infrastructure is effective, enabling integration and connectivity with employment, education, transport and leisure.

A majority of people responding to a recent survey didn’t want to see building on green belt land even if it’s of “little environmental or no amenity use”. That’s essentially wasteland and tells you this can’t be left to ‘the people’. This crisis requires leadership. Last year in Wales we built 1,850 affordable homes. Yet it’s estimated that we need 14,200 new homes a year to meet current housing demand. The average house price in Wales may be lower than the UK average at £170k, but the average salary is lower at only £24k, meaning seven times their salary to get on the property ladder. Our children deserve better. So where are the brave politicians? They’re the ones who’ll be remembered.


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Written by Paul Diggory | Posted on 5th May 2015

Paul Diggory is Chief Executive of North Wales Housing

Website: http://www.nwha.org.uk/