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Graham Awards


Tories want 'innovative' ideas on building more and cheaper homes

The Tory Reform Group has launched a public call for evidence seeking “innovative policy proposals to address the two-fold challenge of availability and affordability of homes to rent and buy.” 

The call forms part of a year-long campaign, launched last week, which the TRG says will focus on housing policy.

“Rents are rising, home ownership is falling, and too many households are spending more than half their income on housing costs. A series of very welcome government initiatives have been launched to help people buy their first home, but there is undoubtedly more radical thinking needed to address the long-term crisis” says TRG national chairman David Fazakerley.

We are on an unsustainable path and need to think outside the box to begin turning things around” says Fazakerley, who wants organisations and individuals with policy expertise to respond to the call. 

The TRG - which describes itself as pursuing “a market oriented agenda that works for everyone, regardless of background” - says individuals or organisations should make contact by the end of September.

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    I think that new highly insulating materials should be used and parts of the buildings possibly pre- constructed off site and assembled on site. BUT YOU HAVE TO GET AROUND THE BUILDING INSURANCE ISSUE BEFORE THIS CAN REALLY GO AHEAD. THE BIGGEST BLOCK TO DEVELOPING THESE COST EFFICIENT BUILDING PROCESSES AND MATERIALS ISSUES IS THE UK INSURERS LOVE AFFAIR WITH BRICK AND SLATE CONSTRUCTION. These same international insurers aren't so rigid about this in 'Europe', and where construction materials old and modern and not bricks and slate!!

    Once upon a time there were 'pre-fabs' built to house many thousands of people, which lasted far longer than they were intended to, and my recollection is that members of my family who had to be housed in them, and raised their families in these absolutely adored them. The point is, we know how do this.

    My next point is to free up more building sites for people who wish to build their own houses to their own, environmentally friendly style. Again, materials such as cob, straw bales, old tyres, sub subterranean living, and wood should be encouraged, as these 'building pioneers' really study what they are doing and can lead the way for future larger projects. Again they will need help from the building insurers, and planners. We have retail parks, why can't we have new building development parks?

    Next problem is rogue landlords which let their properties run down. All landlords should be registered and their properties checked. If any tenant, including London Councils rents from an un - registered landlord, then the person who does the renting should face a mandatory prison sentence. and a fine. In other words it's a criminal offence. GET SERIOUS about the quality of people's lives with the building stock that already exists. Tenants and unregistered landlords letting out sheds in the back garden etc. must also face the same punishment - a prison sentence and a fine. A 24 hour court system for 'quick' justice would also be a good deterrent in itself; if the illegal occupiers and landlords - making a lot of money and paying no tax , were caught and banged up in 24 hours, while HMRC went through 'their business affairs', the demands for registrations would come pouring in.

    Just to add something a little controversial, all we here about is London, and the South East. For heavens sake if people's housing is being paid for from the public purse and they are not employed, why are London boroughs paying ridiculous rents to (some) disgusting landlords when there are super properties available outside of London. Where I am in the W. Midlands, a well fitted out 3 bed terrace costs between £375 - 425 pcm to rent, a nice semi with off road parking and gardens front and back £525 pcm! How does that compare with the S East? Clear the slums, in the S East, make the landlords upgrade their dreadful housing stock and I believe that would also be part of the better and more available housing mix.

    Getting even more controversial, properties empty for more than 12 months, unless the local council have real proof that work is underway at an acceptable pace, i.e. project plans of the refurbishment with time scales - then up the council tax by 10 times, not 2 times, 10 times, and after 2 years unaccounted for unoccupation then by 20 times! That will get things moving, and get many of those empty properties either brought into use or upgraded. If after 3 years the property is still empty, then allow the council to use the property to house people, - rent free to the landlords - even if it's in Knightsbridge or Kensington. No diplomatic immunity allowed on this one. My colleagues tell me that 70% of the top London addresses are empty because the owners, who live abroad, are making so much money just doing nothing with them, they leave them empty.

    OK I'll leave you all with those thoughts and look forward to your comments... I am sure there will be many replies, to my suggestions from many sides, so lets hear them, get them on the table now?
    Have a nice day.

    Collectively we all now what to do, please will someone, or some planning authorities and insurers have the guts to do it?


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