No greenfield land needs to be sacrificed to meet Britain’s growing housing demand, according to startlingly bullish new findings from analyst Professor Anne Powers at the London Society of Economics.
While doom-mongers warn of precious fields being plastered over with sprawling new housing estates, Professor Powers claims all the country’s housing needs can be met by building on small infill sites of less than five acres and by upgrading existing properties. She adds that the “small is beautiful” approach would create more building jobs, boost industry skills and increase the number of apprenticeships compared with reliance on large-scale housing schemes from big developers.
Her report argues that in built-up areas, smaller building plots are often overlooked while potential so-called “micro sites” (ie where a double garage can be turned into a single new home) are “literally too numerous to count”.
Professor Powers concludes: “If we make our existing homes greener and more energy-efficient, this will give the building industry enough work to keep every small-and medium-size builder running for 30 years.
“We need to modernise our housing stock, reclaim and remodel empty buildings, fit new homes into small spaces within existing communities, and do all this with a fraction of the energy, materials and waste of the current building industry.”