Bristol among worst in UK for 'stalled' homes
WORK could start today on building more than 5,000 homes in Bristol – but they have been "stalled" because of the economic recession.
The statistic means that Bristol is among the worst cities in the country for housing schemes that have planning permission which have not yet started.
The city has now been chosen as one of ten for pump-priming cash to kick-start new housing projects.
A report published yesterday called Cities Outlook 2013 says Britain is currently building about 100,000 fewer homes than required each year to keep pace with demand.
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Government forecasts suggest that more than 230,000 new homes a year are needed in England alone to keep up with household growth.
The housing crisis in the Bristol area is particularly acute because it is a popular place to live and it attracts people who move here to retire. Older people are also living much longer these days which means the percentage of retired people is growing all the time.
On top of this, the relatively high cost of a home in Bristol means there is a gap of £19,385 between the salary required for an average mortgage and average annual earnings.
One of the important schemes will be the Wapping Wharf development in Bristol's docklands which will receive £12 million from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) so work can start soon on nearly 200 new homes.
Plans to convert the former Bristol General Hospital into 190 flats and 10 commercial units were eventually given approval after the developers' contributions to the community were reduced.
Before the plans were submitted to the council, the developers were told they must provide £1.2 million towards improvements.
But the developers said they could not afford this amount and now they will have to pay a contribution which is based on profits.
Another similar example was Finzel's Reach, the former Courage Brewery site in Temple Back where the contributions were re-negotiated so the scheme could go ahead.
Bristol Mayor George Ferguson said it was "absolutely right" that the building of more homes was encouraged.
He said: "Apart from the pressing need for a step change in the amount of affordable homes we are building in Bristol it will make an important contribution to driving the local economy.
"Bristol is securing one of the biggest single investments so far from the 'Get Britain Building' programme to kick-start further regeneration of Wapping Wharf on Harbourside.
"I welcome the HCA's announcement of the £12 million investment and look forward to work starting soon and shall do all I can to secure more of this and other funding for the city.
"I shall be working closely with my housing officers, housing associations, developers and all others in the sector with the ambitious aim of massively increasing the number of homes we build over the coming years."
Property consultant Ned Cussen said: "This kind of financial help is just what is needed to give the housing sector vital support.
"Invariably, the market has stalled because of the current economic climate and these kind of measures will create jobs and growth."
The HCA's Get Britain Building programme is expected to see work start on an extra 100,000 homes during the next year and trigger employment for up to 150,000 people, including up to 90,000 low-skilled jobs.
This will have the effect of improving the national economy by one per cent.