Land shortages threaten Tory bid to solve housing crisis

Britain’s biggest housebuilder has urged Prime Minister David Cameron to help solve the country’s housing crisis by increasing the rate it sells off public sector land.

Outgoing Barratt chief executive calls on PM to accelerate the release of public sector land
Outgoing Barratt chief executive calls on PM to accelerate the release of public sector land

Mark Clare, the outgoing chief executive of Barratt Developments, says while the Conservative Party’s general election victory created a “positive political and economic environment” for housing, the new government must deliver on housing commitments it has made, including the release of more public sector land.

Clare, who is stepping down from his role in July, told City AM newspaper: “The state is the largest landowner in the country and if it’s not delivering its fair share then that means we could run into shortages of land as the output of the industry increases.”

His call follows the release of figures by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors that show house prices across the country climbed further last month as new listings fell at their fastest rate since May 2009.

The latest RICS residential market survey reveals new instructions to sell homes fell by 21% in April. At the same time, 28% more surveyors in London reported property prices rising.

RICS head of policy Jeremy Blackburn has warned the government that high prices and weak supply are causing a “national emergency”.

“The affordability and availability of homes in the UK is now a national emergency and addressing this crisis must be the priority for the new government,” he said.

And RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn adds: “It is absolutely critical that the new government focuses on measures to boost the flow of new build.”

The Tories say they have released enough surplus public sector land for 100,000 new homes in the last five years and have pledged to release enough land for a further 150,000 homes by 2020.