Trudi Elliott, Chief
Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the
membership body of planners in the private and public sector
in the UK, welcomed the Government's commitment to addressing the
real obstacles to growth and the need for housing announced
in Nick Clegg's speech to the National House-Building Council
today (Thursday 22 November).
Trudi Elliott told the Boulton & Co news programme:
"We are very encouraged by the Deputy Prime Minister's speech,
particularly the sense of urgency to build new homes and also
by the way in which he is arguing that planning is very much part
of the solution. The housing shortfall needs to be attacked on all
fronts as the Deputy Prime Minister has said so clearly today. We
believe that it is crucial that issues holding back housing growth
need to be addressed such as access to finance, cash flow, upfront
investment in infrastructure, and ensuring all statutory agencies
and government departments work together to make things happen. It
is also important to people that they live in communities with good
transport, schools, green spaces and services".
RTPI President Colin Haylock also welcomed the report: "We
welcome the Government commitment to addressing finance and upfront
investment in infrastructure which are the key issues affecting the
economy. We also commend their call for partnership working from
statutory agencies to make things happen."
The Deputy Prime Minister's speech
Check against delivery
First, let me thank the National House-Building Council
for inviting me to your annual lunch in this, your 76th
There are many reasons why the NHBC has been such an enduring
force in British house building, not least your ferocious defence
of quality, the trust you inspire among both the industry and
homeowners and, very simply, because you've always understood that
house building is about more than bricks and mortar - it's about
Our homes are where we grow up, where we raise our own families,
where we grow old.
They tell the story of our shared, national experiences - you
can plot our history by our houses: the UK's industrialisation, two
world wars, the technological revolution, the population boom.
Events that have been embodied in the kinds of houses we have
built, and which have directly shaped the ways our towns and cities
Our homes equip us for the future. They are the key to vibrant,
diverse communities where people can live, work and prosper. And,
in perhaps our greatest modern challenge, the fight against climate
change, homes that save energy will be absolutely crucial too.
That's why the Coalition remains committed to the target for all
new homes to be zero carbon from 2016 - and we're grateful to the
NHBC for their support for the Zero Carbon Hub.
So the houses we build allow us to be who we are. They remind us
of the nation we once were. They are critical to the country we
intend to be. And I'd like to pay tribute to the industries
represented here today for the part you play in that.
It's that last part I want to concentrate on: the country we
intend to be.
I came into this Coalition Government to build a stronger
economy in a fairer society, so that everyone can get on in
That has meant immediate action to pay down the deficit and pave
the way for growth - of course. But it also means looking further
ahead, too: 10, 15, 20 years down the line. And that's where
Britain's house builders could not matter more.
Think about where lasting prosperity is going to come from.
We need to create an economy that doesn't rely so heavily on our
big banks, where growth is driven by a much more diverse private
sector filled with entrepreneurs and small and medium sized firms,
spread across the country.
An economy where people with good ideas have a real chance of
starting a business. Where firms seeking to grow can find the
staff. Where young men and women can fulfil their potential.
Everything this Coalition does is geared towards that vision.
Whether that's investing in education and skills, prioritising
infrastructure, cutting red tape, reforming tax and welfare to make
work pay, giving local areas much more power to drive their own
prosperity - the list goes on.
But, bluntly, no matter what we do, Britain will not finish this
journey unless we build enough houses. That's the absolute
Our communities will only sustain strong local economies if they
can attract and house the employers, high-skilled workers and
consumers they need.
And right now, the numbers are not looking good.
We're already building 100,000 fewer houses than we need each
year. Over the next decade, each year, the UK's going to grow by
around 230,000 households. Last year we managed to complete 117,000
- just over half.
The credit crunch has certainly exacerbated the problem - with
mortgages and deposits harder to come by.
But this housing crisis has been a long-time in the making:
we've been under-building for decades.
Unless we take radical action, we will see more and more small
communities wither, our big cities will become ever more congested
as we continue to pile on top of each other, and the lack of
supply will push prices and rents so high that unless you or your
parents are very rich, for so many young people, living in your
dream home is going to be a pipe dream.
We're already at the point where, on average, if you don't get
help from your parents, you can't afford to buy your first home
until you're thirty five. The risk is that's going to get even
And what's most staggering about all of this is: everybody knows
it. Every political party agrees this is a problem. Every
Government promises to fix it. But, until now, the political
establishment has been overwhelmed by the scale of the challenge,
tinkering round the edges and responding with timidity, where only
ambition will do.
It's not hard to understand why. The local politics of new
development can be very tricky, and we face some challenging
A few years ago the Barker Review found that if you ask people
how much of the country they think is built-up, most say over half.
The same study found that it's actually more like 13. 5%.
And now, with very little money around, it's an even bigger
challenge to work out how to build more homes at a time of fiscal
But the hard realities can no longer be ignored. There's only
one way out of this housing crisis: we have to build our way
And, just as the urgency should propel us to act, the politics
of house building is, in my view, shifting - and that should
embolden us too.
New development will always make some people uncomfortable. It's
absolutely right that we are vigilant against environmental damage,
and we always strive for development that is sympathetic to its
That's why, when the Government reformed planning law last year
we listened to campaigners and made sure important protections were
kept in place.
But we're also witnessing a kind of generational shift in this
The babyboomers of the 50s and 60s, people who were largely
catered for by the massive housing expansion after the Second World
War, are now watching their children struggle
The plight of the next generation is making what was an abstract
housing shortage increasingly tangible and real.
Parents don't want their sons and daughters frozen out of the
property market. They want them to have safe, affordable options,
close to work, close to public transport, close to hospitals and
Rural areas don't want to become dormitories for the rich and
retired. They want young families to stay in the area to help keep
the community alive.
And as we, as a society, become more open to development, that
creates the space for politicians to be bold.
So now is the moment for politicians of all stripes to get
behind a major housing push.
This will need to span more than one parliament. We need to work
together, and we need to be ambitious in our approach.
And we need to recognise the constraints of conventional
The Coalition Government has already taken major steps to boost
the housing market:
We've massively streamlined planning regulation to encourage
We're helping buyers. Under FirstBuy, for example, we're
partnering with developers to provide loans for first-time owners.
7,000 homes have now been sold. Under NewBuy, we've reintroduced
the 95% mortgage. There's always a time lag with new products, but
Newbuy's already helping with over 2000 sales and the numbers are
picking up each month.
Despite the clear fiscal pressures, we're putting up huge sums
to boost supply, guaranteeing up to £10bn of investment in
homebuilding - in the private and rented sectors. We've set aside
£1bn of New Homes Bonus to encourage local delivery. We're
bringing over 15,000 empty homes back into use. We're delivering
more affordable homes than the previous government and we're on
track to build 170,000.
And I can also confirm today that the European Investment Bank
will be injecting £400m into the UK affordable housing sector. That
money will be allocated by next March at the latest and will help
deliver new energy efficient affordable homes - as well as
improving the energy efficiency of existing homes too.
Together, that's a big and comprehensive package, but we also
understand that we need to do more. Because no matter how much we
deregulate, no matter how many empty homes we help convert, no
matter how much we help with mortgages, these interventions cannot
deliver homes at the scale we need. They are geared to stimulate
today's market - and that's important - but today's market cannot
anticipate tomorrow's need.
And our planning system, as it is, simply isn't producing enough
When my officials looked, they couldn't find any records of a
single new development of over 13,500 homes in this
country since the 1970s.
We simply don't have the right incentives and levers to drive
sustainable development at scale - and that needs to change.
When the need for houses is so great, it's not enough to have a
You have to have a plan - and you have to think big.
So, I can announce that the Coalition has identified major
housing projects that have hit a wall - and we are intervening
directly to unblock them.
We are working with a number of large locally-led schemes,
ranging from 4000 to 9,500 units in size, which in total will
deliver up to 48,600 new homes.
Including, among others, in Cranbrook, Fairfield, Northstowe,
These sites have been held up for various reasons - cash-flow
problems following the banking crash, bureaucracy and licensing
issues, a lack of upfront investment for infrastructure - some for
up to ten years.
And while all of them have strong local supporters, their
communities are, understandably, becoming frustrated by these
So we will unlock the barriers to investment.
We will make sure that bureaucracy does not hold back these
developments: bringing partners together to get action on the
And, where investment is required, I can announce new funding:
we will provide £225m of government money, which will also leverage
private investment to effectively de-risk these projects and get
We will work with prospective developments and ensure that any
public sector investment secures value for money from the
And once these developments are complete, the taxpayer will
get that money back.
That's a first step. But we need to go further. We need to go
back to our roots.
In the early 20th Century the great planners of the time -
Ebenezer Howard, Raymond Unwin - were tasked with housing Britain's
workers following industrialisation, and they realised they would
have to build anew as the Victorian slums were cleared away.
They drew up plans for modern, self-contained, green cities.
Places which offered the dynamism and opportunity of urban living
but maintained the harmony and natural beauty of country life as
Where industrial hubs, green spaces and residential areas would
be carefully connected by cutting edge transport and infrastructure
- everything meticulously thought through.
Garden cities: the town in the country; the best of both
Letchworth was the first in 1903, then Welwyn.
Then came garden suburbs - extensions to established urban
centres which followed the same principles, like Hampstead Garden
Suburb - not far from here.
A movement was born, and it swept across the world.
You can still see its influence in America, South Africa,
The Netherlands, Ireland, Hong Kong, Brazil.
Here in the UK, post-war governments were guided by the garden
city philosophy as they sought, literally, to rebuild Britain
following the ravages of war.
And in 1946 the New Towns Act was passed, and dozens of New
Towns and urban extensions followed, from Corby to Cumbernauld,
from Basildon to Bracknell.
It's time to rediscover that proud tradition of creating new
We can either condemn ourselves to haphazard urban sprawl - the
surest way to damage the countryside.
We can cram ever more people into existing settlements,
concreting over gardens and parks - and bear in mind we already
build the smallest homes in Western Europe.
Or we can build places people want to live. Places which draw on
the best of British architecture and design, which have their own
identity and character.
Which, rather than destroy the countryside, actually have a
crucial role in keeping it intact.
Places put together in a way that makes sense for modern British
People who want gardens, who want to live sustainably, who need
to be able to move easily between work and home. Garden Cities and
Suburbs for the 21st Century.
Stevenage, Peterborough, Milton Keynes. These places didn't
spring up of their own accord.
People got together and made them happen: through imagination,
Not every New Town was perfectly designed - but the fact is,
people like living in these places.
More people now commute into Milton Keynes than out of it: it's
economically independent and still growing strong.
We need to learn from the success stories and replicate them
So while the Coalition won't deliver whole new cities overnight,
in the Housing Strategy that the Prime Minister and I launched last
year we committed to running a competition to promote a wave of
larger-scale projects where there's clear local support and private
We committed to publishing a prospectus setting out more detail
on what we expect from local authorities and developers and what we
can offer in return.
We're hammering out the detail of that now - and there's some
fairly lively debate happening in government about how to do
But I'm very clear: I want the prospectus to offer real and
meaningful incentives so that it encourages projects that are big
Government needs to get better at encouraging these kinds of
developments, which, by definition, take time and need
Departments aren't used to thinking beyond the next Spending
Review, or beyond the next Parliament - but we need to shift our
sights to the horizon.
Of course, we can't start making decisions for the next spending
round now and we need to be realistic about the pressure on the
public finances, which will continue for some time.
But we can and we must ensure local areas have the time and the
direction to prepare their bids.
I want us to make the best offers to the most ambitious
proposals. So not just 5,000 new homes, but 15,000, 25,000.
I want us to encourage projects which are sustainable and
Where it makes sense I want us to designate more new greenbelt
around new settlements - that's something no government has really
done for a generation.
We'll need to find ways to create more certainty for large scale
And, in general, I think we need to move to longer timeframes in
the way we budget for capital.
And I want us to offer these projects and communities real
The Coalition has created a new power for local areas to borrow
against future business rate revenues- tax increment financing, or
Councils tell me that is a massive help in raising investment
for local infrastructure and, personally, I'm very keen that we
look at these kinds of financial freedoms in the context of new
garden cities and suburbs too.
So we'll be saying more shortly, setting out the precise
And what will be crucial in all of this is that while central
government provides support, incentives and encouragement, that
process will be locally-led.
I lead a party that is localist to its core. We now have a
chance to show that localism can deliver in a big way.
I want us to prove that, when it comes to major development, we
don't need to revert to central planning, we can embrace a new era
of community planning instead.
I urge the people in this room to help make this a success.
Garden Cities and Suburbs for the 21st Century: we can rise to
this challenge, but only if we see the opportunity.
This isn't just about bricks and mortar. it's about giving
British families the homes they need. Giving children new
communities to grow up in. Creating places that will grow and
thrive and become part of the fabric of this great country.
This is the moment to revive the ambition of those who came
before us in order to create a better future for those who will
In keeping with our great British traditions: it's time to think