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Govt high rise building plan praised for ‘better use of space we have’

by: Owain Thomas
  • 08/02/2017
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Govt high rise building plan praised for ‘better use of space we have’
As part of its Housing White Paper the government has suggested the need to look at high density and even high rise buildings as a solution to the housing market's failings.

The white paper and attached consultation suggests that land could be used more efficiently for development.

“Not all development makes good use of land, especially in areas where demand is high and available land is limited. London, for example, is a relatively low-density city especially in its suburbs,” it said.

The suggestion that higher rise and higher density buildings could be more widely used where appropriate received an optimistic welcome from Esurv director of business development Richard Sexton.

“The density point is a fair one,” he said. “It understands that we have got to make better use of the space we have got.

“But we need to learn from the past and the monstrosities that became ghettoes. There are areas where we will be able to apply it more to fit the local area – for example in London it might be more popular or appropriate than somewhere else.”

Sexton also raised the need to use existing brownfield sites better to provide more effective housing opportunities.

“We will have to use the brownfield sites that we have available as well,” he added.

Suggestions from the consultation in this regard include higher-density housing in urban locations that are well served by public transport, or where opportunities exist to replace low-density uses (such as retail warehouses, lock-ups and car parks) in areas of high housing demand, or which offer scope to extend buildings upwards.

However, the willingness of mortgage lenders to facilitate these positions could be a crucial driver in the policy’s success.

“The government or developers will need to get lenders on board because quite often they will have policies not [to lend] above certain levels, so a really important part of this policy is to engage with lenders rather than just do it and hope,” Sexton concluded.

Gateway Surveyors chief executive Marcus Radcliffe was more cautious about persuading lenders to participate.

He noted that lenders tended to have different criteria with very little uniformity across the market.

“I think it would come down to the risk profile of the lender, although the government could work with the Council of Mortgage Lenders,” he added.

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