There is a serious and growing crisis of housing supply and affordability substantially, but not only, caused by a long term failure to allow enough land to be used for building. This in turn is mainly caused by policy constraints imposed on land supply since the evidence shows that the quantity of suitable land is very great – far exceeding the area of all existing development even avoiding all land with any environmental or amenity designation.
There also appears to be a problem with information and a fragmented and idiosyncratic system for allocating land for residential use. Other factors – such as fiscal incentives and infrastructure constraints – are no doubt also significant but outside the scope of this report.
This report sets out to inform the debate on land supply and its role in our crisis of housing affordability by providing data, and the best research evidence available, to address two myths or misconceptions on which the crisis is founded.
The first of these is that ‘Britain is a small island’ so there is just a nature-governed shortage of land for housing and unless we vigilantly ration the space available for building we are in danger of ‘concreting over Britain’.
The second misconception is that if our planning system allocates land according to ‘housing need’, assessed on the basis of forecast growth in local household numbers, then supply of land for housing is in balance; and, by implication, if prices rise and affordability declines something else is at work.