Housing supply and the problem of land supply

The Funding for Lending scheme has ended early for home loans. A move that has been taken to prevent a potential housing bubble.  Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, acknowledged in an interview with the Guardian there is a large supply issue and more credit isn’t going to solve our problems.

He [Carney] said that Britain was building half as many homes a year as Canada despite having a population twice as large, and added:
It is widely acknowledged that there is a very large supply-side issue here. I fully recognise that Canada is the second-biggest country in the world. It’s easy to build housing as it’s easy to find places [to build]. But it does give you a sense of the issues around the constraints on supply and the movements in prices you see as well. They all reinforce that sense that there is a supply issue. And there’s nothing the Bank of England can do to change that.

This move makes a lot of sense. We need government and banks to make incentives in the right place, not help fuel demand that cannot be met.

Everyone recognises that housing supply is an issue. Land supply is part of that issue too. We need to make sure the right incentives are in place for an active and transparent land market. We also need citizens to look at the land around them and question why that land isn’t being used for housing.

Land Wiki is a tool for citizens to help identify plots of land that can be better used. Anyone will be able to contribute to the data. We’re doing this so citizens can be part of the solution having data and tools to make better decisions.


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Which councils support custom build?

One of the goals of Land Wiki is to support custom build. Finding an appropriate plot of land is the first stumbling block for custom builders. Councils are the natural first point of contact for people, so what are they doing to help?

Councils in England are required to provide a local plan that addresses the needs of local people, including those wishing to build their own homes. It’s part of the National Planning Policy Framework.

According to Eric Pickles, “There are over 50 councils supporting self-builders”.

Map of self build projects and council support from NaSBA
Map of self build projects and council support from NaSBA. View original report (pdf).

50 councils represents about 1 in 8 councils in the UK. The map above is from NaSBA’s August 2013 self build progress report. It shows the custom/self build “friendly” councils. We’re trying to get the data behind the map.

Which councils are supporting custom build and which ones are failing? We’ve started an open spreadsheet listing councils that support custom build. By measuring council support we can track progress.

There are 3 ways in which we’re identifying support:

  1. A custom build policy is in the local plan.
  2. Sites (or parts of larger sites) are allocated in the local plan for custom build.
  3. Custom build information is provided on the council website.

View the open spreadsheet of council custom build support

Is your local council supporting custom build? Please contribute to the spreadsheet by checking your council local plan and see if they are addressing the needs of custom build groups.

At Land Wiki we’re going to be doing more with information in local plans. Stay up to date by following us on Twitter. Get involved by contacting us.

Further reading for councils

The state of open land data in the UK

The UK Government has many databases relating to land use information and many government organisations that look after them. The DCLG created a map displaying all assets owned by the UK Government. That project no longer exists. I can only guess because of budget cuts. Collating all of that data from so many public bodies is a difficult task and keeping it up to date is even harder.

Let’s take a look at the major data-sets available for land that is potentially available land for development.

Find Me Some Government Space
Find Me Some Government Space is an excellent tool for finding land and property for sale or rent. It could be even better if the all of this data is open. Read our campaign.

National Land Use Database of Previously Developed Land (NLUD-PDL)
It’s a large database of around 23,000 brownfield sites across England published by the Homes & Communities Agency. Shame latest site data is from 2009

Land Registry – Land Sale Prices
The Land Registry keeps the official records for land ownership in the UK. The Land Registry publishes a lot of open data. This data is incredibly useful for gaining insight into the housing market. The Land Registry decided to publish price paid data for residential property sales, but decided not to do the same for land sales. Why? Having the same data for land would increase transparency like it has done in the property industry. Read our campaign.

Site allocations
Each council in the UK is required by law to have a Local Plan, as part of that site allocations is an important document. Site allocation documents are published on each councils respective websites. Information about the status of each site is not easy to find. 

So that’s a lot of data, none of which is up-to-date and easily accessible.

Please refer to the land data sources spreadsheet for a more comprehensive list of open data-sets.

In order to get some or all of this data on the map, we’re going to be talking with various organisations to open up data and try and keep it up-to-date. We’ve set-up data campaigns so you can keep track of our progress.

Have I missed a useful open data-set? Tweet us or write a comment below.