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The missing piece: the case for a public sector master developer

This briefing calls for development of new, large-scale, sustainable communities with homes, jobs and infrastructure. It will mean the public sector taking a much stronger role, in partnership with the private sector, to advance the long-term public interest.

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The decline of more secure housing tenures over the last two decades, especially among households headed by younger people, is one of the main factors undermining broad-based economic security.

Key points

  • For many decades too few new homes have been delivered in the places where demand is greatest (with the impact of undersupply biting unevenly across the country as a whole).
  • There has been a profound shift towards the private sector in terms of both development activity and the resulting tenure mix. Whereas post-war through to the 1970s, there was a much greater balance between social and private, new supply is now predominantly homes for owner occupation, at the top of the market, delivered by private housebuilders. As such, too few of the new homes added have generated an expansion of either secure rented housing or affordable homeownership options.
  • This poor outcome is in part due to the limited role of public sector actors in the land and development market, closely linked to the virtual cessation in the delivery of large new settlements or urban extensions (of the kind that were commonplace in the post-war decades).
  • Rekindling this form of large-scale development – to create great new places to live and work, with a strong bias towards pro-security tenures for those poorly served by the current market – can make a significant contribution to meeting housing need in areas of high demand.
Smiling woman drinking a cup of tea in a kitchen.

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