Where to put one million new homes?
— 12 Oct 2018, 18:19 by Hugh Dennis
Are you worried about the British countryside? The edges of our villages, towns and cities are growing outwards with lots and lots of new housing. The locations seem opportunistic to me; the result of a scarcity of building sites and bubbly land speculation.
I did a tour of the UK mainland in May 2018 and saw lots of these new developments creeping onto our beautiful countryside throughout my journey. The above picture is in Wales, far away from those many new housing developments. The many hours alone on that tour gave me the chance to reflect on something I've been talking about for 25 years now.
When I was living, working and studying in London in the 1990s, my partner (now wife) and I had the usual accommodation problem that most people who come to London in their twenties and thirties have, namely, how to start a family and stay in London?
Studying architecture, I was struck by how much land in brilliant city centre locations wasn’t being fully utilised. A bit of investigation revealed that whilst some of it is being hoarded by speculators, the vast majority is under used land that belongs to the public sector.
I repeat. This is publicly owned land that is not being used properly during a housing crisis.
For the last 25 years, I’ve been intermittently connecting with 'The Great and The Good' telling them all about all this under used publicly owned land. Everyone I’ve met has been genuinely interested in the issue, but there has never been a mechanism to get housing built upon it. Meetings end, correspondence dwindles, I go off and do my daytime jobs.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve realised how some of this underused publicly owned land can be re developed for affordable, decent and secure homes. All it needs is a Good Kick... A CIC (Community Interest Company pronounced 'kick' by the CIC regulator) behaves exactly like a normal company except that its profits have to be re invested in the community.
Have a quick read of the pages here. The Little Ships idea is not complicated. It is also not obvious and it is definitely not easy. But it is the right thing to do; eventually, people will realise that part of the solution to the housing crisis has been all around us, all along.
If you're interested in how Little Ships can help solve the housing crisis, we’ll be releasing more details on this website throughout the course of 2019. The website as you see it today is for keeping meetings with 'The Great and The Good' as quick and efficient as possible.
We're currently going back to meet 'The Great and The Good', to tell them about how we're going to help fix the housing crisis. Keep an eye out for our launch on social media later in 2019 to see how it's going.
Hugh Dennis MA.