5 solutions to ease the UK’s housing crisis

Tom Lawson

From asking the elderly to downsize to banning second homes, five potential solutions to the UK’s lack of affordable housing

1. Build in unconventional spaces

Floating house ‘The Chichester’ by Baca Architects

Thousands of floating homes have been mooted as a way to help ease London’s chronic housing shortage, tapping into the city’s canal and river network. Or, what about building thousands of homes on top of hospitals, schools and libraries? Another suggestion is to squeeze ‘micro-housing’ into gaps between semi-detached homes.

2. Ask the elderly to downsize

A row of houses in Exmouth, Devon. Image: Dun.Can

As our population ages, providing incentives such as tax breaks for single, elderly people to move out of family homes could free up a hefty chunk of stock. The Intergenerational Foundation estimates more than a third of housing is under-occupied and government figures suggest that around 200,000 UK homes sit empty. This week, the government announced a plan to make it easier for older people to move into smaller homes.

3. Build tiny

A tiny home. Photo: Vasenka Photography

‘Tiny homes’ – those smaller than 46 m² – are cheaper to construct than conventional buildings and more efficient to build and heat. Long popular in the US, they are making their way to the UK. Charity Social Bite is planning 10 such buildings to house 20 homeless people in Edinburgh. The first residents are set to move in this summer.

4. Ban second homes

Residents in St Ives, Cornwall campaigned to stop new second homes being built

Property prices in some parts of Cornwall are 18 times higher than average local salaries. The high proportion of second homes there is one factor. In 2016, St Ives residents voted overwhelmingly to ban the construction of new properties unless they were reserved for locals. The High Court backed them.

5. Open source homes

A WikiHouse plan. Photo: Martin Luff

Building from scratch can be more cost-effective than buying an existing house. But most people are short on time let alone architectural knowhow. A growing number of open source plans are available on the web, including the plywood WikiHouse. Some ‘snap together’ modular homes can be constructed within days.

Main photo: Tom Hannigan


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