Chapter summary: Housing

Homes, planning and changing policies

Public opinion affects the direction and consequences of housing policies and may become even more influential following the government’s decision to allow greater local control over planning decisions. At a time of regional housing shortages, people’s views could prove critical in deciding whether and what type of new development goes ahead.

Opposition to new homes is strongest in the south of England, where housing shortages are most severe. However, most people accept that some new homes are needed and those who initially say they would not support development can be swayed if plans include new amenities for their community.

  • Across Britain people who oppose more homes being built in their area outnumber supporters by 45% to 30%. In the south of England, opposition is higher (50%) – and support lower (27%).
  • Developments that include side benefits like new employment, parks, schools and transport links would achieve a more even division of opinion in towns and suburbs of the south of England – although opponents would still outnumber supporters in rural areas.

While rising house prices and restricted access to mortgages have seen falling levels of home ownership in recent years, it remains the tenure of choice for the vast majority.

  • Given a free choice, 86 per cent would buy their own home, rather than rent. One in five (19%) say the main disadvantage of home ownership is the expense.
  • The perceived disadvantages of renting depend on the landlord. High rents are the most commonly cited disadvantage of renting from a private landlord, mentioned by 32%, while 39% say the main disadvantage of renting from a local authority or housing association is anti-social behaviour on estates.

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