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Plans for 400 homes in Walsall revived

More than 400 homes will be built on a Walsall estate under plans which are set to be given the green light when they come before council bosses next week.

Walsall Housing Group and Keepmoat Homes want to build 407 homes on land at Goscote Lane, in Goscote, near Pelsall, as part of the borough’s ‘biggest ever residential regeneration scheme’

Walsall Council’s planning officers have recommended the scheme is approved at the meeting on Thursday.

The news comes after planning bosses approved a plan to build 426 houses on the land in April last year, but no work began and now a fresh application for 407 homes has been submitted.

Head of development at Walsall Housing Group, Mark Ramdehal, said: “This is the final phase of the borough’s biggest ever residential regeneration scheme, delivering more than 800 new energy efficient homes in North Walsall.

“These revised plans have seen us replace proposed one and two bedroom apartments with two, three and four bedroom houses, in recognition of the need for more affordable family homes within the region.

“Subject to planning permission, we aim to be on site in the New Year, with the first homes completed by the end of 2019.”

The 407 houses includes 281 dwellings for private sale, and 126 for affordable general needs which compromise of bungalows and houses.

In the application, agent Konstantina Zannetaki says: “The development is part of the wider Goscote Lane Corridor Regeneration scheme, which is part of Walsall Council’s Strategic Regeneration Framework (SRF) initiative.

“The aim of the initiative is to regenerate the wider area with new, high quality housing and attractive, usable open spaces.

“The aim of this scheme is to create a safe, secure and desirable place to live in. It is vital that the proposals are influenced by and respond sensitively to the site’s context and surrounding buildings.”

The main entrance onto the site would be along the western boundary at the junction with Goscote Lane and Goscote Lane Crescent. A secondary entrance would run parallel to this, further south.

Councillor Ian Robertson, who represents the Blakenall ward, said: “We hoped that it would have started by now, but we welcome the fact that it’s moving forward and a new community can grow where the old one failed.”

Source: Express and Star

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Modular homes are the future of UK housing

The column inches written about the dysfunctional British housing market are legion. Too few homes, at too high a price, built for too few people. Two years ago, the Farmer Report commissioned by the Government concluded that the British construction industry, using a medical analogy, was a dying patient.

Fast forward to today, it still lies on its sick bed, failing to change at a scale necessary to answer the UK housing crisis, boost productivity or innovate quick enough. The collapse of Carillion proves how fragile major contractors can be. Mark Farmer said at one event late last year that the industry: “is standing on a burning platform and all other options have gone. It simply has to change.”

Modular homes set to revive ailing construction industry

There’s one option, which could be a reviving shot in the arm for this ailing industry, and that’s modular construction. Rather than lay bricks and pour concrete on-site, sections can be manufactured in a factory, shipped to their destination and then bolted together for final assembly. The finished product can look very similar to existing buildings, yet 80 per cent of the work is done off-site.

This offers a new way of delivering more buildings, faster and of better quality, including homes, schools, hospitals or prisons. In his Autumn Budget, the Chancellor Philip Hammond said the state will use its purchasing power to drive the adoption of this technology come 2019, whether it be through the Ministry of Transport, Justice, Health, Education or Defence.

This offers a new way of delivering more buildings, faster and of better quality

“We cannot deliver the infrastructure we need with the model we have today, there just isn’t enough capacity,” explains Kenny Ingram, global industry director for IFS. “It’s the reason why the government mentions modular homes in every second sentence at the moment, it doesn’t help that there are labour and skills shortages as well.”

Major construction firms getting on-board with modular

Many industry players including Mace, Laing O’Rourke and Mott MacDonald support offsite manufacturing, so do others such as Kier, NG Bailey, Sverfield and Arup, all extolling the benefits of so-called construction integrated manufacturing, or design for manufacture.

“We are looking at the biggest change in 100 years,” states Mr Ingram, whose company develops and delivers enterprise software for customers, globally. “It’s been talked about for a long-time, but now there’s real momentum and we’ve seen a greater number of companies come and talk to us about this.”

The UK construction industry is slow at moving into the 21st Century, adopting new technologies and changing its business processes, including the use of digital design tools, such as building information modelling  (BIM). Productivity has barely budged in 25 years, in manufacturing it’s doubled in this time.

The government wants 300,000 homes a year built by 2025, at the moment the sector can only deliver 190,000. The UK now lags behind Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands when it comes to the merger of manufacturing and construction, while in Japan more than 15 per cent of a million or so new homes constructed each year are, to some extent, prefabricated.

The many benefits of modular homes 

There’s also a perfect storm brewing in this sector with an ageing workforce, a lack of new entrants and growing restrictions on free movement of labour, think Brexit, as well as a structural decline. There were 12,000 small housebuilders in 1988 accounting for one in four homes, by 2017 this had dropped to 2,500 responsible for just 12 per cent of new builds .

“There are lots of cultural barriers to change. The big driver is the housing market and the current crisis. This will force the issue. We are going to have to build more and companies are going to have to release land and land banks to relieve the pressure or build houses on them affordably. There is a sheer weight of demand,” states Mr Ingram.

There are benefits to building modular homes, 50 per cent reduction in time, lower labour costs, less materials, which means lower overall costs

“The market is now catching up. There are benefits to building modular homes, 50 per cent reduction in time, lower labour costs, less materials, which means lower overall costs. There are now quite a few factories where these modular homes can be built.”

However, investing in offsite manufacturing from the construction industry is still in a very early stage. Capital costs are high. Many top tier companies don’t know what their strategy is or should be. The government is pushing modular construction, and digital solutions like BIM, but is yet to mandate on it.

“The issue is getting people to realise there is an issue at all. Many construction firms are entrepreneurial and privately run. They started as one-man bands. Getting them to change is challenging. However, the fact that they are entrepreneurial means they can turn on a knife-edge quickly and invest if they have to,” decries Mr Ingram.

Construction needs government buy-in to drive modular forward

Amongst industry players there’s widespread agreement that if the government legislated on modular manufacture creating a solid pipeline of work there would be a drive to invest in factories that could churn out the buildings and infrastructure of the future.

“The government will force the issue in time. The issue is that the construction industry is still working on the same platforms as it ever has. Many companies don’t know how to manufacture. Shipping and logistics will also be part of this new picture. Many traditional firms just don’t have business systems that support these capabilities,” says Mr Ingram.

“We have solutions that works with construction, manufacturing and logistics. That’s why people are listening to us. The fact is the disruption will come, maybe not from construction, but from other sectors. Insurance companies, manufacturers, even Amazon are looking into this.”

The fact is the disruption will come, maybe not from construction, but from other sectors. Insurance companies, manufacturers, even Amazon are looking into this

Other sectors of the economy have been disrupted by tech-driven solutions from transport (Tesla), to accommodation (Airbnb), construction could be next. It doesn’t have to be from a domestic player either, with modular manufacturing, competition is global, since flat-pack housing can be produced in Sheffield or Shanghai.

“We began investing in construction 20 years ago and in parallel have a strong capability in manufacturing. It is a no brainer to bring the two together and offer the best of both worlds,” states Mr Ingram. “Now expect to see huge change around the corner.”

Source: Raconteur

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Brighton & Hove’s Biggest New Council Housing Development In Years Completed

The first tenants will soon be moving into brand new homes in Whitehawk, following completion of the biggest new council housing development in the city in recent years.

Fifty-seven new homes have been built at Kite Place consisting of 10 one-bedroom, 33 two-bedroom and 14 three–bedroom flats.

Each of the properties has a balcony or patio, some with sea views, and they are designed to be energy efficient, with communal boilers providing hot water and heating.

Six of the homes are designed for wheelchair users and their families, with a number of mobility-rated units available for people needing accessible shower rooms. All the rest are built to the latest ‘accessible and adaptable’ standards, with lifts to all floors.

Kite Place is the largest development in the council’s New Homes for Neighbourhoods building programme, which aims to build at least 500 new homes on council land to provide much needed affordable rented housing. Building began in February 2016.

It’s situated off Whitehawk Road, on the site of the former Whitehawk Library which moved to new premises. There are good bus services on the doorstep, plus cycle storage, and a car club vehicle will also be based at the site. The first tenants in each of the flats will receive free car club membership for two years.

The first Kite Place tenants are due to move in over the next few weeks. The homes were let through Homemove, the council’s choice based lettings system.

Another 29 new council flats are nearing completion in Whitehawk at Hobby Place, next to Whitehawk Community Hub. The one, two, and three bedroom homes are due to be finished next month.

Kite Place and Hobby Place will bring the total number of new council homes completed under the New Homes for Neighbourhoods (NHFN) programme since 2015 to 136, with many more in the pipeline.

This is a step in the right direction but much more new and affordable housing is needed if the city is to meet the needs of it’s growing community, and if it is to offset the incessant and incremental price increases that are being stoked by ever increasing demand for housing.

Within the next few months, planning applications are expected to be accepted for the first three sites in the city’s ground- breaking plan to deliver a thousand truly affordable homes across the city, alongside the 500 council homes.

Available for rent or shared ownership, with the homes to rent affordable for those on the National Living Wage, these will meet some of the demand for housing amongst workers in our public sector and key industries currently priced out of living in Brighton and Hove.

Toads Hole Valley north of Hove is the last major site for housing in the city, bounded as we are by the National Park. It offers the potential for over 700 new homes as part of our City Plan. As many of these must be as truly affordable as possible.

Long-standing national policy requires up to 40% of homes to be affordable in new developments. However it uses the 80% of market rates definition of “affordable” which, if it ever was affordable, isn’t now, and especially in high housing cost areas like Brighton & Hove.

Developers push back on providing affordable housing even at this rate, but in truth few in need of housing in Brighton & Hove can afford a home at 80% of market rates.

Westridge Construction won a Considerate Constructors award for community involvement at this site and the artwork by local children and young people won runner-up prize in a hoardings competition run by the Considerate Constructors Scheme.

Source: B Journal

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Ambition set out for ‘dramatic increase’ in annual number of new homes built

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said he wanted to see “a dramatic increase in annual numbers” of new homes built.

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid has set out an ambition for more than 300,000 new homes to be built each year by the mid-2020s.

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government was speaking on a visit to a new housing development in Cambridgeshire where he launched Homes England, the new government agency which is replacing the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

He said that housing affordability was the “biggest housing issue in this country”, and while increasing the number of homes built from round 217,000 per year to 300,000 was a “big ask” he believes it is achievable.

He described Homes England as “the new government agency which is part of our plan to make sure we’re building far more homes in this country”.

He continued: “What this agency will do, and today here where we are in Cambridgeshire is a fantastic example of it, is help to assemble land, especially brownfield land, that can be developed into homes and work with those developers, help them with infrastructure and particularly focus on what I call the small and medium-size developers to help them build the homes that we need.”

Asked how the launch of Homes England was more than a rebrand from its predecessor the HCA, he said: “One thing that’s very different from before is the new agency has a lot more power, including a lot more what I would call firepower, so a lot more financial resources for example.

“One good way of demonstrating that is investment in infrastructure and what we found is to bring more housing sites forward and to bring them forward more quickly it really helps if you can invest in the road and rail links and other types of infrastructure that you need.

“If you can do it upfront, so you can show the local community that that infrastructure will definitely be there, I think you will get a lot more interest and you can bring forward a lot more sites.”

He said he wanted to see “a dramatic increase in annual numbers” of new homes built.

“What I’ve set out is by the middle of the next decade I want to see the current, around 217,000, number rise to at least 300,000,” he said. “That’s a big ask but I’m sure we can do it if we continue to work in partnership with developers, with local councils and others to get this done.”

He continued: “Housing affordability I think is the biggest issue in housing in this country and there’s far too many people, particularly younger families, that feel that owning or even renting a decent home is out of their reach.

“Clearly that’s not acceptable, so in the long term what we’ve got to continue doing is to increase the number of homes built each year.

“We’re at almost a 10-year high at the moment but we need to do a lot more.”

He said that in the short term “more immediate” help on offer included schemes such as Help To Buy and the lowering of taxes such as the cut in Stamp Duty.


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Housing Minister confirms that UK needs a better housing policy for older people

The UK needs a better housing policy to deal with the needs of older people whether they want to stay in their own home or rent, the Housing Minister has confirmed.

Giving evidence recently to the Communities and Local Government Committee in Parliament, Alok Sharma admitted that the whole issue about housing for older people is very much an emerging area.

He said there is currently no ‘joined up’ policy and there is a need for better planning for home and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is currently working on guidance for local authorities for housing for older people.

‘This is not really a question of one size fitting all. People will have different needs. Some will want to stay in mainstream housing. 96% of older people are currently in mainstream housing, others may want to look at sheltered housing,’ Sharma told the committee.

He acknowledged that the Government need to make sure that there are more homes built that older people would want to move into as well as making sure that the homes that are currently in place are effectively fit for purpose.

He pointed out that there is a disabled facilities grant that is available to people who are eligible to make adaptations to their homes and gardens to allow them to live longer in their own properties. It can be used, for example, to update heating systems and improve insulation and is available to tenants as well as home owners.

Sharma also explained that officials are trying to widen the scope of planning guidance on home building for older people and getting charities and local authorities to talk to each other and to get their thoughts on how the guidance could actually be structured.

The committee heard that at a time when more older people are renting homes, then any policy on housing for the older generation needs to take the private rented sector into account. Figures suggest that 200,000 have joined the private rented sector in the last four years alone.

Sharma confirmed that landlords need to be included in the policy going forward. ‘If there are adaptations to be carried out, it is about making sure they are carried out. I would just say that I would expect that landlords would actually find it quite a positive thing if adaptations were put in to a building, because it is entirely likely that might enhance their ability to rent the property further to other people with similar needs,’ he said.

Source: Property Wire

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New £2.9m bridge will create link between Notts town and village

Funding for a multi-million pound bridge that will support the development of hundreds of new homes has been approved.

The new pedestrian and cycle access overpass will be installed over the A46, connecting the former RAF Newton site – where 550 new homes are proposed – with a plot of land also proposed for new housing in Bingham.

A total of 317 homes could be built on the plot of land, just west of Chapel Lane, by developer Barratt Homes.

The planning application was submitted to Rushcliffe Borough Council in September, and is due to be discussed by its planning committee at a meeting in the new year.

The council has been awarded £2,910,000 by Highways England – the government-owned company with responsibility for the operation, maintenance and improvement of the motorways and trunk roads in England – to build the bridge.

The bid to secure the funds began two years ago, and it was confirmed on December 28 that it had been awarded from Highways England’s Growth and Housing fund.

Bingham Town Councillor Sue Hull welcomed the news of the bridge being built, and said it would “connect” both Newton and Bingham together.

She said: “The borough council applied for the funding of the bridge over two years ago now.

“It is needed for the area. The residents on the RAF Newton site feel isolated, as the nearest shops for them are in East Bridgford.

“This new bridge will connect the two sides together. People will be within walking distant of supermarkets, and the post office.

“It will be a quick and direct link to Bingham’s town centre, and will have a huge positive impact on the people from the Newton side.”

It is not known when work on the bridge will start.

The developments are part of the first phase of Rushcliffe Borough Council’s plan to build up to 1,050 new homes as well as shops, a community centre, primary school and allotments and parks in Bingham

Leader of Rushcliffe Borough Council Councillor Simon Robinson said: “Rushcliffe is delighted to be awarded this funding from Highways England Growth and Housing Fund.

“The link bridge directly supports the development of 550 new dwellings proposed at RAF Newton.

“It will provide direct pedestrian and cycle access across the recently dualled A46 between the RAF Newton and Bingham development sites.

“This will mean the current and future residents of the RAF Newton settlement will have sustainable access to a wide range of retail and commercial amenities on offer in Bingham, and better access to employment opportunities in both the town itself and the greater Nottingham area through improved access to public transport links.

“RAF Newton is a key site on the A46 and the funding for the bridge brings us a step closer to realising our targets and ambitions for this key growth corridor.”

Source: Nottingham Post

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39-home estate in Telford gets the go-ahead

Plans for an estate of almost 40 houses which will transform a site in Telford will go ahead.

The latest scheme by Telford & Wrekin Council’s housing company Nuplace will see 39 properties on land in Snedshill.

A range of two, three and four-bedroom homes will be built after councillors accepted the proposals at the council’s planning committee on Wednesday evening.

As part of the plans along Holyhead Road and Snedshill Way, a total of 15 per cent of the homes will be affordable properties.

Councillors – who voted unanimously to accept the project subject to conditions including a section 106 agreement – raised concerns over the original reduction in affordable homes from 25 per cent.

Councillor Ian Fletcher: “The designs of the houses and layout is appropriate for the type of housing they are. I’m concerned about the affordable housing proportion being reduced down to 15 per cent.”

The houses will be built by Nuplace’s development partner Lovell and made available for rent.

The report, submitted to Telford & Wrekin Council, said: “The application site will provide much needed accommodation on allocated residential land within the village of Snedshill.

“The site is in a sustainable location, where future residents will enjoy close proximity to schools, services, employment, and community facilities.

“The development of the application site will form a natural extension to the existing village boundary, terminating at Holyhead Road, the development will provide a feature to intersection of Holyhead Road and Snedshill Way.

“The site will provide quality new build homes for market rent with a small number of affordable homes, creating an inclusive development for different needs.”

Council officers said the site was not viable to produce the full 25 per cent in affordable homes.

Members of the planning committee also raised the need for appropriate crossing along Holyhead Road.

Councillor Fletcher added: “I think we should have an appropriate crossing along the road.”

Source: Shropshire Star


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Schemes aim to bring 1,700 new homes to Birmingham’s Southside

Ambitious new plans could see 1,700 new homes brought to Birmingham’s Southside district.

Manchester property group MCR has submitted a £275 million urban village scheme to council planners that would see more than 1,000 new homes on the vacant Monaco House site on Bristol Street.

Meanwhile housebuilder Barratt Homes is proposing 778 new apartments and houses on a nearby plot further down Bristol Street, on the former site of Matthew Boulton College and the old St Luke’s housing estate.

MCR’s £275 million urban village, named New Monaco, is intended to completely transform a seven acre site on Bristol Street into a unique village community on the fringe of the city centre.

Two towers, 26 and 29 storeys high, will stand alongside apartment blocks and townhouses at the heart of the build-to-rent scheme, providing more than a 1,000 one, two and three-bedroom homes for rent.

Plans for the new city centre community include 1,500 sq m of space for ground-floor shops, cafes and bars; landscaped public and private open areas and pedestrian walkways.

Residents will also benefit from facilities including two levels of basement car parking, a concierge, an on-site gym and cycle club.

The development will provide a new street to link nearby Vere Street with Wrentham Street to connect surrounding city centre locations.

MCR Property Group is working with partners including planning consultant, Pegasus Group, and architects, Leach Rhodes Walker, to bring the ambitious project to life.

Demolition of Monaco House is currently underway with building work set to start at the end of next year. It is estimated the project will take around five years, completing in 2023. Once finished, the homes will be sold via Regency Residential, MCR Property Group’s residential arm.

Chris Taylor, fund manager at MCR Property Group, said: “We’re incredibly proud of the final plans for New Monaco. Everything has been designed to enhance the vacant land and deliver well-designed, high-quality, affordable housing for Birmingham residents and enrich the city centre for generations to come.”

David Onions, director at Pegasus Group, said: ‘‘Monaco House has been an unattractive part of Bristol Street for many years and this major new development will result in a dramatic improvement to this part of the city centre, aiding significant revitalisation of Birmingham’s Southside area and meeting the city’s growing housing needs.”

Christian Gilham, director at Leach Rhodes Walker architects, said: “This purpose-designed urban village will set a fresh benchmark for the quality of city centre living in Birmingham. The scheme embraces high quality, durable designs and revitalises this prominent Bristol Street site to create a new community focused around two new, landmark residential towers.”

Meanwhile plans have also been filed with Birmingham Council for the demolition of the former St Luke’s Church and The Highgate Centre off Bristol Street to redevelop the site to provide 778 one, two and three bedroom houses and apartments.

It adds to the dramatic transformation of the area; the site across Bristol Street forms Park Central, a Crest Nicholson housing scheme on the site of the former former Lee Bank estate, which is being undertaken by Crest Nicholson.

An application for the St Luke’s site was originally filed in February but withdrawn last month for changes following feedback from the council. It now comprises 233 houses and 545 apartments across 16 apartment buildings as well as a small shop unit.

There will also be 544 parking spaces as well as landscaping and areas of parkland, including children’s play areas and a football pitch.

Express and Star

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House building helps UK construction output rise at fastest pace in five months

Demand for house building helped offset a drop in civil engineering and commercial construction activity.

The UK’s construction industry experienced a “moderate rebound” in November, as a pick-up in house building helped output grow at its fastest pace in five months.

The Markit/CIPS UK Construction purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showed a reading of 53.1 last month, up from 50.8 in October and easily beating economist forecasts for 51.0.

A reading above 50 indicates growth.

It was the highest reading in five months, with house building projects again emerging as the “primary growth engine” for industry activity.

The survey said participants chalked the growth up to “resilient demand” and a “supportive policy backdrop” for residential development.

It helped offset a drop in civil engineering activity and commercial construction, which was the weakest performing sub-sector in November as Brexit-related uncertainty and a subdued economic outlook weighed on client investment.

Duncan Brock, director of customer relationships at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), said: “It appears that policy support and a small recovery in the UK economy has boosted sentiment and encouraged clients to come out of their shells and start building again.

“The housing sector was the primary driver of growth increasing at the fastest rate for almost half a year.

“However, it is private sector companies that need to commit to big-ticket spending, with commercial development still underperforming as persistent Brexit uncertainty continues to bite.”

He added that there was also concern that a drop in new contracts has dragged civil engineering works, with activity dropping for the third straight month and marking the longest period of decline for more than four years.

But some construction managers have expressed hopes that “forthcoming tender opportunities” linked to energy and transport infrastructure programmes will increase workloads.

Overall, companies pointed to a “moderate rebound in new orders” last month, thanks to a “general improvement” in client demand which had softened over the summer. In turn, it sparked a “moderate rise” in sector jobs growth.

Optimism among business picked up from October’s 58-month low, though the survey noted that confidence was still relatively subdued and was hovering near its lowest levels since mid-2013.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said relatively low mortgage rates, the Government’s Help to Buy Scheme and other policy initiatives are likely to keep home building activity bouyant.

“Meanwhile, signs that the Brexit divorce terms will be agreed imminently, enabling future relationship talks to begin, might help corporate confidence to recover.

“But with the UK Government insisting — for now — that Britain eventually will leave the EU’s single market and customs union, firms likely will remain reluctant to commit to construction projects with long-time horizons.

“We expect the construction sector to bump along the bottom as long as a hard Brexit still is one of the options on the table.”

Source: Express & Star

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Theresa May hints at new government policies to build “more houses, more quickly”

The Prime Minister has committed to building “more houses, more quickly” as the government comes under further pressure on the growing housing crisis.

The government will announce measures to “fix the broken housing market” in “the coming weeks and months”, Theresa May said.

The Prime Minister was speaking ahead of new housing supply figures, which are due out tomorrow morning.

Most recent figures, for 2015-16, showed an 11 per cent year-on-year increase in the total number of net additional dwellings to 189,650 – but the total was still down 15 per cent on the 2007-2008 peak.

May said: “For decades we simply have not been building enough homes, nor have we been building them quickly enough, and we have seen prices rise. The number of new homes being delivered each year has been increasing since 2010, but there is more we can do.

“We must get back into the business of building the good quality new homes for people who need them most.”

May was speaking ahead of an announcement given today in Bristol by communities secretary Sajid Javid to wipe housing associations’ debt off the balance sheet.

Javid will say: “There are many, many faults in our housing market, dating back many, many years. If you only fix one you’ll make some progress, but not enough. This is a big problem and we have to think big.”

Last month the minister called on his cabinet colleague Philip Hammond to consider borrowing billions at current low interest rates to boost house building. However City A.M. understands the chancellor is cool on the measure – or indeed anything particularly radical – being included in next week’s Budget.

Source: City A.M.