Housing: The Moment of Maximum Opportunity

There will never be a better time to initiate a housing revolution with an impact as great as that of council house sales, write Keith Boyfield and Daniel Greenberg in Housing: Now is the time to Seize the Opportunity.

With the Government due to publish a new Housing White Paper shortly, now is the time to deliver new housing. Without radical action, the Government will not achieve its target to build one million new homes by 2020.

Attitudes towards housing are also changing: a recent British Social Attitudes Survey found that 21% of respondents would oppose building new homes in their area, compared to 46% in 2010. Those supportive of the construction of new homes in their area has climbed from 28% in 2010 to 56% in 2014. Nimbyism is waning.

Voters now consider housing to be one of the top five most important issues facing Britain today. As a result, inaction will result in real consequences for the Government and the country:

  • The electorate will not look kindly on a Government which fails to meet its housing targets, particularly as it has recognised the problem at the highest level
  • The economy already suffers as a result of inadequate housing stocks; significant sums of money are tied up in unproductive assets and high house prices distort the labour market, forcing working people to waste fruitless and uncomfortable hours commuting
  • A restricted housing market only increases the divide between those who inherit wealth and those who do not

This report outlines detailed recommendations for the Government to drive forward a housing revolution including:

  1. Planning Simplification. The complexity of the current system makes any significant housing development risky and the high fixed costs of navigating the planning system are a barrier to entry for smaller developers, reducing competition
  2. Reducing the tension between developers and local residents. Legislation should be introduced to create Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) which can act to bring together developers, local communities, utility providers, and any other parties and provide a balance between the groups to facilitate a smoother process
  3. Pink Zones. Areas with diluted red tape – hence Pink – where community co-operation is incentivised at the beginning of the planning process.

The Pink Planning concept has attracted interest from a wide spectrum of individuals including:

  • Steve Norris, Chairman of BNP Paribas Real Estate and Chairman of Soho Estates
  • Professor Paul Cheshire, Emeritus Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics
  • Professor Robert Adam, leading architect and writer on Urbanism, Director of ADAM Architecture
  • Nick Hewer, TV presenter and documentary film maker, for example The Town That Never Retired
  • Sir Brian Pomerey, CBE, former Chairman of the Board of Centrepoint and Homeless Link
  • Peter Freeman, Co-Founder and Chairman of Argent Group PLC
  • Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP, former Cabinet Minister
  • Lord Salisbury, former Cabinet Minister and leader of the House of Lords
  • Michael Mainelli, City of London Alderman and Emeritus Gresham Professor of Commerce at Gresham College
  • Lord Flight, Director of Metrobank plc
  • John Fingleton, former Senior Advisor to both the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury
  • Andrés Duany, leading architect and urban planner
  • Hank Dittmar, world leading urbanist
  • Simon Walker, former Director General of the Institute of Directors
  • Jon Moulton, Founder Better Capital LLP
  • Matthew Colledge, former Leader of Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Vivienne King, Managing Director Vivienne King Consulting
  • Sir Ian Byatt, economist and former Deputy Chief Economic Advisor to the Treasury

Click here to read the full report.

Media Impact


Keith Boyfield, Daniel Greenberg - Thursday, 2nd February, 2017