People in Brighton and Hove are spending 49.33% of their salaries on rent. This is not sustainable. Without urgent action the population of the city will be radically altered with only the wealthy being able to live here.
The city’s housing market hasn’t been sustainable for quite some time. No one can overstate the scale of the housing crisis in Brighton and Hove. It will only get worse unless there is determined action from central government.
In areas where there is such a crisis, the government should allow local authorities to declare a housing crisis and then give them the power to say that all new homes being developed in the area should be built for rent at social rent levels and not at market levels.
Land is a scarce resource. Therefore, any land in housing crisis areas must be earmarked for the provision of homes with social rents. right to Buy would have to be suspended on ended.
The argument will be made that such developments will not be viable. There are two reasons why property prices are so high – market forces drive up land prices, and market forces drive up the rental and sales market. By intervening in the market, local authorities should be empowered to force land to be used to meet local housing need.
I cannot believe that there would be any problem getting developers willing to take on such developments, even if they wouldn’t make the vast profits that they are currently making.
For anyone who disagrees with this idea, what is your alternative? The market is failing. Housing is too important to be left to the market and to profiteers.
Speculators, private developers and the large developing housing associations, set free by government, are part of the problem, not the solution. Housing associations and local councils committed to providing housing at social rents are the solution. I would have no problem with them working with private developers and professional private landlords who are already bucking the market and providing homes that are more reasonably priced.
(Some of the ideas in this post were first explored in an interview with the Brighton Argus and published on 7th August 2015)