Press Release: Civic Voice responds to Government’s Housing White Paper

Civic Voice welcomes the new Housing White Paper to give a focus on delivering the homes the nation needs

The Government today published its long-awaited Housing White Paper. Civic Voice has been pleased to have worked so closely with Government, promoting key issues within our manifesto ‘Localism for Real’. As it stands, the Housing White Paper seems to want to open more land for development, speed up decisions and gives no greater protection than that already in place for the green belt.

Ian Harvey, Executive Director of Civic Voice said, “There is common consensus that we need to build more houses to meet the demand that is driving up both house prices and rents to levels that are unaffordable to many. We need to plan for the 3 million extra households that will need housing in the early decades of the 21st century. The political parties have made various promises for many years to get volumes of housing built each year that have not been seen for decades. Although there has been some revival in house-building recently it is not enough to meet demand and has left many communities feeling that their wishes have been overridden. Statistics from Local Government Association (April 2016) shows that there are more than 475,000 sites in England and Wales that have planning permission but are yet to be built”.

Ian added, “We are glad the Housing White Paper is finally published and particularly glad Government is hearing the calls from our manifesto to speed up delivery. We have many situations across the country where planning permission has been given but developers are not acting. Those planning permissions need to turn into homes.” 

Civic Voice has consistently said councils should have “use it or lose it” powers to incentivise faster development, giving them the ability to levy council tax on plots allocated for housing in plans where homes are not built within reasonable timescales, as if the houses had been built, and to compulsorily purchase such land where necessary. 

There has been a concerted campaign to persuade us that the only way to solve the housing crisis is by building in the countryside, either through more urban extensions or new settlements, cutely re-branded as ‘garden towns and villages’.Without a clear policy for the green belt, the competitiveness of our cities is threatened by leaving them as hollowed-out and degraded environments, much less able to attract new investment and skilled and educated people.

Civic Voice remains cautious about the final document and will be examining the detail behind the announcement over the coming weeks. 

Civic Voice will be holding an APPG for Civic Societies debate on February 21st to discuss the detail in the Housing White Paper. You can register your place for the event here.


Notes for Editors

If you would like to attend the event you can register your place for free here: . Speakers are yet to be confirmed at the event.

About APPG for Civic Societies

The APPG agreed that the priorities for the coming year will be the built and historic environment with a particular focus on places of historical importance. The Civic Voice Design Awards is another project the group intends to take forward with the aim of it to push community participation in planning. 

About Civic Voice

Civic Voice is the national charity for the civic movement in England. Our mission is to develop a society where everyone can say “I care about where I live”. We promote civic pride through our network of over 75,000 individual members