“So many of the parishes in our district are merrily approving more houses around their village,” an official from Oxfordshire fumed to me last month, “and that’s against Council policy!” I had to pinch myself: living in London, it’s normally the reverse.
Making sure local people benefit is one obvious way to gain support for new homes. I assume that’s why the new Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, has announced that a proportion of new homes will be available for local young people to buy at a 20% discount.
As we travel around the country, we often hear the objection that locals won’t be able to afford the homes being built. And we have long said that giving local people more power to demand what they like, if done correctly, could radically improve the supply of new homes.
The devil is in the details. Will Mr. Jenrick’s proposal lead to more homes being built through increased local support, or will it just mean a different use of sites that already have approval? Will the cost be borne by the landowner, or by people who would otherwise have moved into some of those new homes?
Done badly, it could become a version of a Chinese hukou system, where people find it very hard to move from the place where they were born.