Friday, 27 November 2015

Bureaucracy and planning hurting empty homes

A high-profile architect has called on the government to slash red tape and planning constraints to tackle the 350,000 long-term empty homes in Britain.

Speaking to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester today (Wednesday), George Clarke called for ‘less red tape, less bureaucracy and less planning’.

Mr Clarke is working on a campaigning TV programme for Channel 4, which is due to launch in December.

He said: ‘I have seen how empty homes wreck communities and wreck lives. That really has to stop.

‘We are at the lowest level of house building since the 1920s. The first thing that we need to do is get people back into those 350,000 empty homes.

‘The only way we are going to get house prices down is to increase the level of supply.’

He said there is also a need for new homes, but these must be high quality and sustainable.

‘It has got to be sustainable and it has got to be considered,’ he said. ‘The biggest challenge is how you balance localism and nimbyism.’

Cabinet office minister Oliver Letwin said Mr Clarke’s comments tied in with a ‘huge’ package of housing reforms which is due to be published in November.

Mr Clarke was speaking at part of session looking at the three themes the Conservative Party’s policy forum will be examining over the next year.

These are productivity, meeting the needs of the ageing society, and cities, towns and villages.

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