The government is set to announce £1.8bn in funding to turn brownfield sites in England into housing in Wednesday’s spending review. The Treasury said 160,000 “greener” homes could be built on the land, which it said was collectively the size of 2,000 football pitches. The homes have been billed as part of the government’s agenda to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
But Nigel Wilson, chief executive of Legal and General which is a major player in the build-to-rent market, told the BBC’s Today programme this morning (October 26) that more of the homes needed to be “affordable” because poorer people in smaller cities were increasingly being left behind.
“You shouldn’t have to be rich to be green,” he said. “It’s very difficult for poorer people to get on the green [housing] ladder. There’s a lot of active listening going on [by the government], but we don’t just want CGI housing – we want real housing built across the UK.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also promised £9m to build ‘pocket parks’ in urban areas across the UK. The parks, which would be around the size of a tennis court, aim to improve access to green spaces in cities. At least 2.5 million people across the UK currently live more than a 10-minute walk from their closest park or green space. Sunak is also expected to announce £65m to digitise the town planning system, with the first phase of the upgrade being rolled out to up to 175 local authorities in England.
Critics, however, have pointed out that much of what has been announced so far of Sunak’s plans has simply been a case of rearranging existing money, rather than actually bringing anything new to the table. Campaigners have also been urging Sunak to bring in a VAT cut on heating bills in the wake of soaring fuel prices.