Housing market: the facts and the myths

There is a huge gulf between myth and reality when it comes to the British public's understanding of the UK housing crisis, an industry expert has claimed.

David Pretty, chairman of the New Homes Marketing Board (NHMB) and former chief executive of FTSE 100 housebuilder Barratt, said that while 80pc of people considered the UK housing shortage a serious national issue, they also thought the greenbelt was disappearing under concrete and that housebuilders were hoarding land instead of building on it.

The views were revealed in a YouGov poll conducted by the NHMB but Mr Pretty said that the fears about land use were far removed from the reality.

advertisementSeventy-one per cent of respondents believed that the greenbelt had decreased in the last ten years, whereas it actually increased by around 65,000 acres.

Mr Pretty said that the idea that housebuilders have land holdings beyond their immediate business needs was also incorrect, and that a lengthy and cumbersome planning process was to blame for lack of development.

Mr Pretty said: "As a snapshot of the great British public's thinking, this poll is both encouraging and disturbing. People really do now recognise that we have a housing crisis, are understandably worried by it and seem to accept that urgent action must be taken to address it.

"But when it comes to the detail, significant numbers of people still buy into the hoary old myths about the greenbelt and countryside disappearing under concrete and builders landbanking, and many more are confused or unsure about the implications for themselves, their communities and the nation."

Most respondents believed that plans to build 120,000 new homes in the south east every year for the next ten would take up anything between three and 20pc of total land area. The reality, according to Mr Pretty, is that the new homes would only occupy 1pc of the land.

He warned that unless these myths were dispelled, local communities would not support new housing developments in their own neighbourhoods which would likely hinder the Government's ambitious housing targets of providing three million new homes in England alone by 2020.

The report comes at a time when industry commentators are warning the British public to brace themselves for an end to the house price growth that has characterised the market in the last decade.

telegraph.co.uk, 05.12.2007

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