The average house price across the UK rose 10.9 percent over the past year, climbing £ 23,930 to £ 242,832, according to Nationwide. Many office workers are no longer forced to commute to busy cities, wanting to spend more time at home and therefore need a larger home with a more spacious yard. That, combined with the government’s stamp duty vacation, means there has been a “race for space” that has pushed prices beyond the usual commuter belt to greener havens. “The majority of people want to move to less urban areas,” says Nationwide’s chief economist.
In many ways, it is a welcome development that is bringing much-needed traffic to the main roads of the province. But the housing stock is chronically scarce and this need can only be met by building new apartments.
Better rebuilding is an integral part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to level regions across the UK and create new jobs and homes closer to where people grew up.
The huge migration from small towns to big cities for good jobs is being reversed, giving families the opportunity to buy a home where real estate is cheaper.
To make this happen faster, Johnson wants to trigger a revolution in planning by defining entire areas in three zones: growth, renewal or protection. In growth areas, an automatic permit is issued in order to avoid years of bureaucratic objections, while renewal zones include largely derelict urban areas that generally benefit from a permit.
The only problem is that many people fear that “growth areas” will bite into the untouched landscape in order to achieve Boris’ goal.
The locals would have little say in new housing developments that would be built on parts of the green belt if they were intended for rapid development.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England says this could lead to an “open season for developers in large parts of the country”.
On the flip side, the Country, Land and Business Association argues that the land should not be treated as a museum and that “we will only alleviate rural poverty and create opportunities if we allow landowners to invest in their communities”.
It makes a compelling case for bringing jobs and housing to hard-pressed rural communities. But it’s also a potential election-time bomb for the Conservative Party, alienating many of its traditional voters.
Just as the Tories are gathering votes in formerly Labor-supporting working-class communities, the recent local elections have shown that many Tories in affluent middle-class constituencies have shifted their support to the Greens or LibDems, in part to protect their green and pleasant country.
This tension in planning could lead to the north turning blue and the south turning red. Housing Minister Robert Jenrick has the challenging task of overcoming this political tightrope.
With the goal of building 300,000 new homes by the mid-2020s, the best approach for him is to focus on the development of fallow land.
In the hollowing out of the inner cities by remote working and e-commerce, he sees an opportunity for the “conversion of offices into residential, for the conversion of retail into mixed use, and that will lead us, I think, to a different approach to the housing numbers over the Country”.
Hopefully, by building affordable housing in the centers of the cities, these will remain lively, exciting places where young people can meet.
Some experts also consider the change in work habits to be exaggerated, and young people in particular appreciate office work.
“I suspect attendance rates will be much higher than many expect,” says a former CEO of Grant Thornton UK, “driven by younger employees’ thirst for development opportunities and the social aspects of working life.”
Everyone agrees that the commute is the least attractive part of the work day. So if more fallow land could become starting houses for younger generations, everyone could benefit.
Because when the two best ways to meet your future partner are through friends and work, wasteland can do a lot more necessary acts than just providing a place to sleep.