Challenges for local infrastructure central to housing development opposition, says report


A new housing and infrastructure report has revealed that 28% of survey respondents would oppose construction of new homes in their area, with the majority citing strains on local infrastructure as the central reason.

The findings have been made through the ‘Perspectives on Infrastructure: Housing’ paper which has been published by the independent UK law firm Burges Salmon, alongside leading property journalist, Maria Shahid, who has led in-depth interviews with eight of the housing industry's leading experts.

The report which includes a YouGov survey of 1,700 UK residents builds on the idea that housing is an asset class in its own right and is key to unlocking the delivery of infrastructure. The report also discusses a variety of other themes such as placemaking and the role of the local government and community in the delivery of housing.

Despite nearly a third of respondents stating they would be opposed to housing developments in their area, the survey also shows that 42% believe building more affordable homes would be the most effective way of improving the housing crisis.

Furthermore, almost half say they would need better transport links and medical facilities (46%) to convince them to support the construction of new homes in their vicinity, and over a third say they would need proof of further employment opportunities (40%).  

Commenting on the paper, Ross Polkinghorne, partner at Burges Salmon, says: “Last summer, our firm ran a report looking at the delivery of UK infrastructure projects, one message that came across loud and clear was that housing is emerging as an asset class in itself. Housing drives the creation of other social infrastructure like schools and hospitals. It increases the demand for it but is also a major means for getting existing requirements built.”

"Housing drives the creation of  infrastructure like schools and hospitals. It increases the demand for it but it is also a major means of getting existing requirements built."
Ross Polkinghorne, Burges Salmon partner.

Interviews for the report included Rupert Joseland, property director for the West and Wales at St. Modwen; Bill Hughes, head of real assets at Legal & General Investment Management; Graeme Craig, commercial development director at Transport for London; Barra Mac Ruairí, chief operating officer at YTL Developments (UK) Ltd; Patricia Brown, director at Central; Hugh Taylor, national head of Housing at HSBC Bank plc; Vivienne King, chief executive officer at Soho Housing and Jackie Sadek, chief executive at UK Regeneration.

Key issues to be generated from the interviews include the need for a clear, longer-term vision from central government to deal with the crisis, greater communication and collaboration between minsters and local authorities, and the pivotal role housing plays in the delivery of UK infrastructure projects.   

Sadek, who heads up UK Regeneration, said: “What we really need is a wholesale revolution in housebuilding.  The models we are using at the moment are broken and any solution using this model is doomed to failure."

Property journalist Shahid, adds: “It was a pleasure to work with Burges Salmon on this research report. With the supply of housing now reaching crisis levels, it was encouraging to note that key industry figures understand the importance of locality and community in bringing forward new schemes, as well as the crucial role that infrastructure plays in the equation.”

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