A new poll into public attitudes towards development in Greater London reveals the depth of the dilemma politicians and policy makers face as they try to solve the housing crisis.
The poll, commissioned by communications agency Forty Shillings, of 1,151 adults living in Greater London shows the public back new housing development in their area amid real pessimism about their own prospects for homeownership.
Over 60% now support new development in their neighbourhood, across the social and political spectrum, but crucially the public care about protecting green space and the quality and affordability of new developments as much as quantity, setting a tough challenge to policymakers and developers.
When asked to rate their priorities in order of importance, building affordable homes was rated most important, closely followed by protecting green space. Respondents rated increasing the supply of homes overall as the least important priority, below creating jobs, improving transport, building new social housing and stopping foreign investors.
Reflecting on the results, Wyn Evans, Managing Director of Forty Shillings said: “Londoners are increasingly pessimistic about their limited housing choices, which helps to explain why a clear majority now support new homes being built near them. The public remain, however, to be convinced by supply-side arguments that the housing crisis will be solved by simply building more units. The public’s appetite for new housebuilding is positive news for developers, but the industry must do more to make the case for the housing projects they are currently delivering.”
Alex Crowley, Strategic Director of Forefront Market Research added: “The solutions industry and policymakers are talking about appear to be quite different from the solutions Londoners are currently prepared to support. Only by listening more to their concerns can promoters and policymakers succeed in building a new consensus around what’s needed to crack this problem. Or we risk good intentions getting stuck in planning committees for lack of public support.”
The poll reveals:
- When asked to rate their priorities in order of importance, protecting green space was nearly as important as building affordable homes.
- Prioritising affordable homes for locals, using supply to bringing prices down and attractive low-rise development are the most strongly supported arguments.
- But the argument about building on London’s Green Belt has not been won and high rise is not yet seen as an acceptable alternative.
- When asked to choose the one organisation they have most faith in to deliver their priorities, social housing organisations and local councils came out on top. 26% said they had faith in social housing organisations, followed by 25% who said their local council. By contrast, 12% said private developers, 13% said local businesses and 13% said the Government. Only 8% of Londoners said they had faith in the Mayor of London.
- Of the political parties, Londoners have the most faith in Labour to deliver their development priorities.
- A significant majority don’t think they’ll be living in London in five years’ time.
Forty Shillings and Forefront Market Research will be hosting an event for political and industry figures on Tuesday 19th June to reveal further analysis of these findings and the underlying drivers of perception.