A new report reveals Wales could face a housing crisis equal to or greater than in England unless urgent action is taken now.
A major new report reveals Wales is set to suffer a housing crisis even more acute than in the rest of the UK.
The report reveals:
· Wales has the oldest housing stock of any Western European nation, much of which is in very poor condition
· rates of housebuilding are so low that today’s new homes will have to last more than 2,000 years before their turn for replacement
· the backlog of unmet housing need has already reached 33,000, whilst four per cent too few homes are being built each year to meet the projected growth in the number of households
· real needs are probably much greater when accounting for areas of low demand resulting from deteriorating or derelict stock
The report ‘Building Success: The economic role of new housing in Wales’ follows the HBF’s highly influential report of 2002, ‘Building a Crisis’, which outlined the scale of England’s housing undersupply and compelled the government to put housing at the top of its agenda.
The treasury and the office of the deputy prime minister have now accepted there is a housing crisis in England and the planning system is undergoing major reform to increase housing provision in the south and regenerate communities in the Midlands and the north.
However, rocketing house prices in Wales strongly suggested it was beginning to experience similar problems to the rest of the UK. This report, the first of its kind, confirms those fears.
Robert Ashmead, chief executive of the House Builders Federation, said: “All the signs are that, without effective action taken now, Wales is heading for a housing crisis equal to or possibly worse than in the rest of the UK.
“In addition, it faces extra problems of having an exceptionally old housing stock, much of which is in such poor condition that it is close to being unmarketable. This prompts outward migration and the ensuing economic and social decline of once thriving communities.
“We are urging the Welsh Assembly that unless urgent action is taken, the country’s housing crisis will have severe consequences on the future growth and prosperity of the country as a whole.
“The assembly’s aspiration is that within a generation, the standard of living in Wales will match that of the UK as a whole, whilst over the next decade the target is to raise per capita Gross Domestic Product from 80% to 90% of the UK average. Addressing the housing crisis is fundamental to achieving these goals.”
Specific recommendations to the assembly, include:
· to adopt a formal policy position recognising the need for adequate new housing provision
· to formulate a housing strategy to cater for areas of economic growth and to tackle areas of low demand
· to monitor housing completions to ensure regional housing targets are met
· to ensure that a broad mix of house types are provided to meet all forms of demand
The report reveals that more than one-third of Welsh homes are pre-1919 with a further 12% built between the First and Second World Wars. A study in 1998 estimated 8.5% of the Welsh housing stock was classified as “unfit” with a total repair bill of more than Ł1 billion.
Results from the 2001 census show a vacancy rate of 1 in 25 with another 1 in 100 classified as second homes.
Ashmead added: “In numerical terms alone, the undersupply of housing in Wales is not yet as acute as in England but when the age and condition of the stock is taken into account, the crisis is perhaps even more serious than across the border.”
The report ‘Building Success: The economic role Of new housing In Wales’ will be launched at an all-day conference shared with The Bevan Foundation on Tuesday 20 January 2004 at the Heritage Park Hotel, Trehafod, Pontypridd. Huw Lewis, deputy minister for communities, will be speaking at the conference.