Brownfield – Now pay attention children, you got this wrong!

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Brownfield – Now pay attention children, you got this wrong!

Spare a thought for the poor teachers who must repeat the same things to their students ad infinitum… That is how I felt this week when I read the report by the Centre for Policy Studies entitled: The Case for House Building.

So, dear reader, I am going full on teacher mode with you too and I am going to give little lessons and then give you lots and lots of homework to do.

I am going to start with a history lesson first and mix it with a bit of mental arithmetic. In the 1960s we built 3.6 million homes. In the 2010s we built 1.5 million homes. In the 1960s the population was 52.40 million and in 2021 that had risen to 67.33 million (or an increase of 28.5 per cent). Population went up and house building went down. The answer to this is we have a HUGE housing shortage.

Now a lesson in economics. Supply and demand. If there is a shortage of something that a lot of people need, let’s say “homes” in this example, then the suppliers will charge more and more money for it. This will result in some people then not being able to afford homes… like young people or the nurses and teachers and police officers on lower wages.

So far, so easy (and you thought school was going to be difficult!)

Now to solve these two inter-related problems you need to build more houses. Much more houses.

Our friends in Government know and understand this bit but they keep on getting the answer wrong. Rish! And Govey keep on telling us that Brownfield should be prioritised, and the green belt should be protected at all electoral cost.

Now for the homework:

Lichfields produced a report in June 2022 with a very informative map showing that there simply aren’t enough brownfield sites available to meet the housing need. (Please read the report here:

Then there is the Centre for Policy Studies paper called paper, ‘The Case for Housebuilding’. Two former housing secretaries, Sajid Javid and Simon Clarke, and former housing and planning ministers, Brandon Lewis and Kit Malthouse all backed the findings of the report. Please read this report. It is full of little gems like: “…claims that we can meet our housing need from brownfield alone rest on a series of catastrophically implausible assumptions
– that we can turn every scrap of brownfield into housing; that no brownfield will
be diverted to commercial or industrial use, despite the often extremely high valuations for such uses; that we can somehow make it cost-effective to develop and decontaminate swathes of former industrial land in less affluent areas…”

Finally, there is the coursework that I need to set you. You need to read the reports and then you need to complete this test for Mr Gove:

I cannot stress how important it is to share your views with the Government. We need to help educate them and this really is the only way we can do it.

Have a productive weekend doing your homework!