Why Construction Industry Should Tackle Housing Shortage Swiftly

Original article written by Stephen Fear for the Bristol Post on 4th January 2017 (also featured on SouthWestBusiness.co.uk on 6th January 2017):

Stephen Fear, of the Fear Group, takes a closer look at the city’s need for new homes 

HOUSING, and the provision of private and publicly owned affordable homes, is a hot topic in Bristol at the moment, as it is across the rest of the UK too.

Bristol has a current population estimated at 442,500 making it the UK’s tenth biggest city behind London with just over eight million, Birmingham just over one million, Leeds 751,485, Glasgow just over 650,000, Sheffield 552,698, Bradford 522,452, Manchester 503,127, Edinburgh 495,360 and Liverpool 466,415, and as I say Bristol at 442,500.

Cardiff, by comparison, has an approximate population of 341,000, Newcastle just under 300,000, which is about the same as the close-by city of Sunderland. All figures are approximate and taken from various sources, including Wikipedia.

In terms of general prosperity and desirability to live somewhere, however, the capital of the West Country often comes out top, or near the top, nationally.

It’s interesting to see some of the housing statistics produced by the city council.

According to a survey, Bristol’s population is predicted to grow to around 470,000 by 2022 putting even more pressure on land provision for housing supply.

There are around 7,000 new homes planned leading up to 2019 but, as Bristol is an urban authority with limited internal land supply, its prosperity is affected by its relationship with the adjoining local authorities of North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and BANES (Bath & North East Somerset).

According to the Bristol Housing Registry 2015, there were 359 homeless households living somewhere (but where) in the city.

Surely as an advanced democratic nation this just isn’t good enough! We live in 2017 not 1617!

The 2012 stock registry states that 28 per cent of homes in Bristol receive one or more benefits compared to the national average of 21 per cent, with the highest number of benefit claimants living in the private sector.

As I say housing provision is, quite rightly, a very hot topic!

There is a way to quickly increase provision within city centres and I have written to the Housing Minister with a specific idea which, in my opinion, could work right across the country.

I have asked him to meet me in the new year to discuss my thoughts. I hope he isn’t too busy because my idea might help alleviate homelessness and create new private and affordable homes in every sector without damaging our green belt any more than we have to.

This idea will require cross party agreement and an end to the bickering we see between politicians of all parties, which has left the general population vulnerable from the rabbit in the headlights indecision.

We enter 2017 with a new world before us.

There is Brexit and our negotiations with our old partners. An amicable divorce is the only type which will benefit everyone.

With a population of nearly 70 million, the UK is still a powerful voice in the world.

Bristol is well placed to prosper come what may but dealing with the housing shortage must be a priority.

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