It seems clear that Britain is currently in the grips of a housing crisis, with fewer houses being constructed over the past five years than in any peacetime period during the last century and a clear shortage in sought-after locations. The Lyons Report is an independent review by the Labour Party which seeks to establish the main issues and devise measures to resolve them. The primary aim is to construct 200,000 houses each year until 2020 but how does Labour plan to achieve this?
Firstly, local authorities will be given new responsibilities and powers to acquire land for development, with the acceleration and simplification of the planning application process and increased compulsory purchase powers enabling them to achieve quicker results. There will be a requirement for the submission of construction targets by each local authority and the possibility of intervention for non-compliance with this.
Secondly, the construction industry will be altered, employing smaller building companies to undertake projects and with heightened competitiveness for contracts. Furthermore, methods of financing developments will be changed, with housing becoming an investment priority for the government, local authorities able to share borrowing caps: allowing surplus funds of one Council to support another with additional demand and encouraging housing associations to participate more in attracting investment and delivery.
Whilst the general consensus is that the report is more comprehensive and in-depth than any other of its kind produced previously, the onus on the Labour Party to deliver each of the many complex facets identified in the report will be substantial. The report certainly demonstrates careful consideration and good intentions and all that remains is the question of whether theory can and will be put into practice in order to resolve this crisis before it spirals out of control.
This article was written by Sarah Eley.