UK needs more affordable homes – but they must be green

17th October 2014
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release

The supply of affordable homes must be increased to help tackle the housing crisis, but they must be built to high environmental standards and situated in the ‘right place’, Friends of the Earth said today, ahead of publication of a Labour-commissioned review of the issue, expected tomorrow (Thursday 16 October 2014).

The environment charity said in particular that rising energy prices and the urgent need to tackle climate change meant it was essential to ensure all new homes are super-energy efficient.

Last year Labour set up a commission, chaired by Sir Michael Lyons, to “draw up a road map that will set out the changes to housing and planning policies and practice that are required to deliver the new homes and communities we need”.

Friends of the Earth, which published a new policy briefing today, is calling for a major overhaul of housing policy to ensure all our homes are warm and affordable and have high environmental standards. This overhaul must include both new and existing homes, infrastructure such as transport, shops and services, and access to nature.

Friends of the Earth’s Head of Policy Mike Childs said:

“Urgent action is needed to tackle the shortage of affordable homes, but any new construction must not lead to significant increases in carbon pollution or damage nature.

“A radical overhaul of housing policy is also urgently needed. This must include new and existing homes, water and energy efficiency, access to nature and the prioritisation of public transport.

“Britain’s housing stock must be future-proofed to deal with a world facing rising energy prices and the threat of catastrophic climate change.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. Friends of the Earth’s new briefing on housing.

2. Friends of the Earth is calling for an environmental and socially just agenda for housing which leads to:

• Renovation and future-proofing of the UK’s dilapidated housing;
• More renewable energy generation and water recycling;
• The introduction of policies to ensure affordable homes;
• Making the best use of existing larger homes;
• Improving people’s access to well-managed and safe green areas, including spaces for nature by integrating it into our buildings and communities through green roofs, green walls and green streets;
• Building millions of new homes in our towns and cities, designed to take advantage of the benefits that greater density brings – such as public transport, shops and services
• Putting local government and local people at the heart of achieving change, including enabling local government to borrow billions of pounds to build, together with Housing Associations, mixed community housing, with a high proportion of affordable homes.

3. Millions of new homes are needed in the next 15 years to tackle the housing shortage. Friends of the Earth is calling for: a major energy and water efficiency programme for existing homes, the introduction of rent controls, and action to improve the security of tenure for mortgage-owners and renters. In addition, new homes should largely be located within existing cities and towns to prevent urban sprawl and the carbon impact this has.

4. The Lyons Housing Review.

5. Last month David Cameron pledged to build up to 100,000 new homes for first-time-buyers under the age of 40 at a discount of 20% if the Conservatives win the next election. This would partly be achieved by lowering environmental obligations, such as exempting them from the zero-carbon homes standard.

For press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.

Published by Friends of the Earth Trust