Houses and House Building in the UK
There are claims and counter claims in the house building industry of how many houses need to be built each year in the UK.
The Barker report states that at least 240,000 should be built every year as a minimum amount to keep the property market and home supply stable, in fact the industry has struggled years after year to construct around half that number.
Whilst the clamour for building new homes goes on, and the Government nominates designated areas for building more new towns, other voices are being heard at some unease about the perpetual concreting over of our finite countryside.
There are some obvious and compelling reasons to look for new housing, not least that life expectancy has increased dramatically in the last few decades.
With cultural change and social pressure, offspring look to fly the nest, at the earliest opportunity, and the old concept of generations living together under one roof has long gone.
This often means under occupancy among older home owners and extends the problem of single-occupancy.
Migration has played its part in swelling the population figures. Net migration over the last decade has resulted in the country absorbing the per-head equivalent of a medium sized city year upon year.
Other factors are in play over the perceived shortage and spiralling prices of property, for instance, the buy-to-let market which has grown hugely, helping put up prices and absorb much of what little is available at the lower price end of market, making first time buying increasingly difficult.
Another phenomenon in the housing market, is that of “buy-to-leave”, in which investors buy brand new houses and apartments and leave them empty, a practise, particularly in London, carried out increasingly by investors from abroad not to own homes, but solely an asset, which becomes a liability to the nation’s housing shortage.
For those lucky enough to buy their own home and move into it, transforming their new house into the home of their dreams is often a priority.
Interior furnishing companies supply and install window shutters, blinds and curtains.
There is a rich seam of vacant housing up and down the country, in most major cities. Rows of houses in areas that have fallen out of favour and social standing, calling for rejuvenation.
Estimates put the number of vacant houses at around three quarters of a million, an astounding figure in the face of the current shortage.
In some areas there are whole streets that are empty, the result perhaps of industrial closure, or social malaise of an area, when crime, drugs, and vandalism take hold and the whole area breeds a reputation which leads to exodus.
The regeneration of many of these regions and their housing stock is not insurmountable, when considering the fiscal values of the property market and the need for social cohesion.