Four ways to help solve the housing crisis

Johnathan Bulmer of shipping container specialists Cleveland Containers discusses four ways in which the UK’s housing crisis could be solved.

With house prices rising by 3.2% every year and the latest news revealing that one third of millennials will never be homeowners, it’s clear there is still a housing crisis in this country. 

However, are we making a bigger deal out of this than we need to? Here are four ways in which the UK’s housing crisis could be solved.

Build affordable homes

Whilst new houses are being built, if they’re too expensive, then they won’t help to solve the current housing crisis. Instead, the government should focus on building more affordable, modest homes that the first-time buyer can realistically save a deposit for - think two or three-bedroom terrace houses or semi-detached. 

By building affordable houses, millennials are provided with a glimmer of hope that getting a foot on the property ladder is on the horizon, making it a step in the right direction to solving the housing crisis.

Reduce investor power

One city where the housing crisis is becoming increasingly apparent is Manchester. In 2016, 50,000 people lived in Manchester city centre, and it’s expected to reach 80,000 by 2024. When you see the skyline constantly changing with an increase in high-rise flats, you’d assume that the city is catering to the demand. Yet, if you look closer, you’ll soon realise that for the first-time buyer, these flats are out of reach.

Much of the accommodation in Manchester city centre bars first-time buyers, clearly stating “investors only”. When you consider the fact that the average rent of a two-bed city centre flat is £1,100 a month (before bills), for many millennials it would make sense to house share or live with their parents to save a deposit. . . except even when they have the money, it’s deemed “not good enough”.

One way to help solve the housing crisis in major UK cities is to stop many new developments from being bought by investment only. Instead, a mix of buy-to-let and first-time buyers makes much more sense, in order to cope with demand.

Alternative housing options

Some people who can’t afford to get their foot on the traditional property ladder due to the housing crisis, are looking at alternative means. Boats, shipping containers and sheds are just a few of the options for affordable accommodation.

However, for this to be viable in the future, we need to get rid of the stigma attached - especially when it comes to containers and sheds, as 70% of people identify them as modular homes and 41% of people assume they are less durable than traditional builds. So, what is actually a low-cost solution to the housing problem is currently being overlooked due to untrue assumptions.

In fact, they can also help partway with the homelessness crisis this country faces. In Bristol, containers are being converted into liveable homes, for homeless people to move into. It’s a similar story in London too, with one project taking 290 people off the streets, giving them a safe place to stay. 

Reconsider green belt land

Green belt refers to areas of land that stop our countryside from being spoilt and our cities from being too spoilt. Whilst there should definitely be areas protected from new developments being built, when you consider the fact that more of Surrey is covered in golf courses than houses and Greater London’s green belt land could cover 1.6 million houses, then there is an issue at hand. 

To solve the housing crisis, demand needs to be met and that means identifying suitable areas where new - and affordable - housing can be built.

Johnathan Bulmer is the managing director of Cleveland Containers