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Planning for Housing in the UK

Introduction and Contextual Background

One of the significant imperatives of most people in the United Kingdom is to own a house of their own with the propensity to do so being much more pronounced than most other countries in Europe. Further, with the rise in migrant population and nuclear families, there is an ever-growing need for sustainable planning and development techniques in the UK housing policy. It is in this backdrop that the Government has undertaken to add to the existing housing supply in the UK by 240,000 new houses, with the long-term objective being a target of three million new homes by the year 2020 (Blears & Andrews, Government Bill, 2008).

The multifaceted nature of spatial planning also implies that there is a salient role for contributions from other Government departments to the spatial planning process. For instance, the immigration policy of the UK directly contributes to the influx or exodus of people in the UK, thus affecting the number of households and hence housing demand. Another related department is that of Work and Pensions, whose policies often shape the propensity of foreign workers, skilled or otherwise to enter the country in search of a job. Healthcare influences the life expectancy, which in turn impacts population projections, and health and safety needs and Pubic Services plans influence the infrastructure that needs to be in place before development of eco-towns or even residential complexes can be undertaken. Similarly, the environmental conservation policies adopted by the UK would have a direct bearing on the requirements that need to be satisfied by builders as part of planning and development. The role of these departments needs to be acknowledged and hence incorporated in a concerted manner in the overall planning process and the tracking of the ensuing development of the housing facilities. The understanding of the planning process for key personnel from these departments also needs to be enhanced (UCL & Deloittes, 2007).

During the current times of recession, it has been observed that while the leading cities of the UK would suffer heavily on account of the concentration of jobs and financial services organizations in these cities, from a housing development perspective, the regeneration areas are expected to be the most vulnerable (Parkinson et al, 2009). Accordingly, it is important especially during the current times of financial crisis to intensify efforts on development in these regeneration areas, not treating these as easy choices for cuts in public spending for incentivisation of development here. On the other hand, the Government should also take into account, a realistic assessment of the desirability for foreign migrants to move to the UK in search of jobs and settlement following the especially severe impact of the global crisis on the UK. Here again, the role of the Immigration and Work and Pensions Departments in shaping the projected need for housing is apparent, as any new restrictions on foreign migrants could influence the households in the UK over the medium and longer term in the future.

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