Figures released by the Resolution Foundation show that home ownership has fallen to its lowest level for 30 years in England, with northern cities feeling some of the greatest pain from rising prices.
This has led most to conclude that we are in the midst of a crisis in affordable housing and, if things continue as they are, future generations may fail to get on to the housing ladder at all. Here we’ll look at ways people and companies are trying to solve that crisis.
Affordable factory-built housing
One obstacle for many developers seeking out new land to build on is the red tape that’s often involved. Lengthy disruption, huge investment, and possible rows with local residents and planning committees are just some of the regular issues that developers face.
One way to combat this is with the pioneering of so-called modular homes which are one-bed flats that are built in 30 days. They are then driven to their destination on the back of a truck that lifts them into place by crane.
The flats are small at just 38 square metres, but liveable for single professional or a couple who aren’t too demanding when it comes to personal space. They’re described as “starter homes for city makers”.
If you’re looking to move to a city centre but are struggling for space why not build your home so it can float on water?
Also built in a factory, these homes are transported by road and lowered into marinas, rivers, and lakes. The team behind the project have said it could deliver 7,500 affordable homes, which could be placed on London or Manchester’s miles of rivers and canals.
Whether floating homes are houses or boats is a grey area, however, and that will need clarifying by local planning committees. Also, while transporting the homes via road is doable, it’s not easy and far more of a challenge than in the Netherlands where 95% of floating homes are delivered by waterway.
Building homes on top of public buildings
The debate surrounding the housing crisis tends to focus on how to free up public and private land for new buildings. But what if developers could build on existing land and improve buildings we already have?
It is calculated that building on top of hospitals, schools, police stations, and libraries could create 630,000 extra homes in London alone.
University College London undertook research that found that in the London borough of Lambeth, the 2014 housing deficit of 1,470 homes could be eradicated by 2021 by adding six storeys to the borough’s police station and colleges.
And if 12 storeys were added, that would mean an extra 4,150 homes – half the borough’s 2021 housing target.
Housing subsidised by big employers
The cost of living in some city centre areas is quickly spiralling out of control and a growing number of large employers are beginning to wonder where, exactly, their new employees and especially graduates are going to live.
It has been suggested that it may be in the interests of large employers to invest in housing for their staff and provide it on a subsidised basis.
There is precedent for this as Last year, 85 graduates and apprentices lived at the East Village development in Stratford, East London (formerly the Olympic athletes’ village) on a subsidised basis.
Companies are actively looking at other rental schemes they could work with and it would consider cooperating with developers to help get a project off the ground, by guaranteeing a certain number of subsidised tenants.
Purpose built rental properties
Properties and developments that are completed for the sole purpose of providing rental accommodation provide a vital service in the housing sector. As more and more young people shun home ownership in favour of the relatively burden-free rental market there is a requirement for more stock.
As opposed to the inflexibility of home ownership affordable rented accommodation in city centres provides young professionals with the ideal solution and indeed relieves pressure on housing stock in the surrounding areas.
Mainly funded by private investment, seen as a safe haven for people keen to have a good return on their money in uncertain times, and long term returns are they key benefits to the local economy.
We can be certain that as the population increases the housing issues that the UK faces aren’t likely to be alleviated without fresh and radical thinking.