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Opposition to development halves if new homes are affordable, poll finds

10th May 2024

New polling by YouGov commissioned by CPRE* has revealed that people are half as likely to oppose new housing in their local area if the homes were affordable to people on average local incomes.

Whereas 41% said they did not want to see the construction of more homes close to where they live, that proportion fell to 20% if those homes were locally affordable.

So-called ‘affordable’ housing, which can currently cost anything up to 80% of market rates, is usually anything but. CPRE is calling on the government to redefine the term in housing policy and link it directly to local incomes. The results of the poll, carried out by YouGov, show that this change would encourage many people to support developments to which they would previously have objected.

Support for brownfield

The poll also showed an increase in support for new homes from 50% to 71% if they were built on brownfield land. There are enough ‘shovel-ready’ brownfield sites in England for 1.2 million new homes. Building them could provide people with genuinely affordable housing – close to where they already live, work and go to school – while protecting the countryside. This is a major endorsement of the brownfield-first house building policy, which is critical to reducing pressure on Green Belt land that could otherwise support nature restoration and other environmental benefits.

Developments in the Green Belt have been shown to under-deliver on affordability, and research published by CPRE in 2023 showed that social homes accounted for less than 5% of those built on Green Belt land. The Green Belt is the countryside next door for 30 million people in the UK. It should be improved and protected to help us tackle the major environmental challenges we face, not covered with large, car-dependent ‘executive’ homes that local people neither want nor can afford.

Affordable homes ‘possible with enough political will’

CPRE chief executive Roger Mortlock said: ‘The results of this poll tell us that people want new homes to be affordable for local people and built on brownfield sites. Both are possible with enough political will and we want to see all parties make strong pledges to deliver that.

‘We need to move away from the idea that people in the countryside are against development. They want the same things as everyone else: housing on a scale and at a cost that’s appropriate for their local community that respects environmental limits. Land is this country in a finite resource and our countryside is working harder than ever to meet the multiple environmental and social challenges we face. For new housing we should prioritise inner-city brownfield development, urban densification and regeneration of towns, delivering the homes we need today while safeguarding the countryside for future generations to enjoy.’

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,100 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23rd – 24th April 2024.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

View of new build houses on an affordbale housing site
Affordable housing is still lacking in rural areas CPRE and English Rural by Kerry Harrison


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