53% of Britons would oppose major house building programmes – in their backyard

Over half of the population would oppose a major house building programme if it was in their neighbourhood, new research from the Building Societies Association has found.

In a survey of 2,000 UK adults, 53 per cent said they would oppose building programmes of between 100 and 299 properties in their area, despite widespread agreement that new home building is crucial to resolving the UK’s housing crisis.

According to the latest property tracker survey from the Building Societies Association, which was published last week, 49 per cent of Britons are opposed to developments of more than 300 properties in their neighbourhood.

Despite the aversion to building in their own area, 90 per cent of respondents believe at least 10 per cent of Britain’s land mass should be ‘urban’ – defined as housing, gardens, train lines and parks. Currently, just 7 per cent of Britain is classified as urban.

However, people are becoming increasingly open to the types of properties they want to live in, with 20 per cent saying they would consider a shared ownership property, living in an off the shelf kit home or even renting long-term.

Even with Government initiatives such as the Help to Buy scheme, access to mortgage finance is listed as the single biggest barrier to owning a home among first-time buyers – rising above deposit-raising for the first time since 2012. Some 57 per cent of first-time buyers claimed getting a mortgage is the biggest obstacle to homeownership, compared with 33 per cent in September last year.

BSA head of mortgage policy Paul Broadhead says the research shows why the role of housing minister should be made a full Cabinet position. 

He says: “These results illustrate the major barrier the Government has to overcome when it comes to boosting housing supply in the UK.

“People are open to new developments and even different types of housing and tenure, but the message is clear: ‘not in my backyard’. Local opposition is a major barrier to any Government building its way our of the current housing crisis and is why we need the position of housing minister to be a full Cabinet position and not just a minister of state role.”

Mortgage Advice Bureau head of lending Brian Murphy says: “The latest BSA property tracker findings show that while many people are still reluctant to see large-scale housing developments on their doorstep, the public is visibly warming to property innovations and is eager for a greater choice of options across a range of housing tenures.

“The challenge is now for government and industry to take up the baton and bring these options to the masses. The UK’s housing crisis will not be solved by a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach: it needs bold and creative thinking to build our way out of the current fix.”