Unlocking England’s Hidden Homes

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Date: 10 March 2016

England’s housing crisis is receiving an increasing amount of attention from campaigners, the media and policy-makers, yet the obvious solution to addressing it – building more housing – still faces a range of seemingly intractable barriers. It seems clear that if the government is serious about reaching its target of building 1 million new homes during the current parliament then it will have to explore new ways of providing them which go beyond our current reliance on large-scale development by the private sector.

In this new report, IF argues that a potential source of new homes which has been overlooked in the current debate is those that could be created by subdividing existing large homes into smaller ones. The report estimates that as many as 4.4 million households across England have enough spare living space to create at least one new dwelling that would meet the national space standards if they chose to subdivide it, and these new homes would have the advantage of already being located in established communities which can provide access to jobs, transport and public services.

What makes this concept especially appealing is that many of the people who own these large properties are members of the older generation, who may wish to downsize to a smaller property but are being put off by the thought of having to leave their local community. Encouraging such “downsizing-in-situ” would make better use of our national housing stock and give older homeowners the benefits they would get from downsizing while avoiding most of the costs.

IF calls for the government to make it easier for more people to subdivide large homes into smaller ones by creating a householder permitted development right to subdivide (which would require prior approval instead of planning permission), and also by implementing some suggested tweaks to the tax system which could nudge homeowners towards subdividing.


Posted on: 10 March, 2016

2 thoughts on “Unlocking England’s Hidden Homes

  1. viincent.christine@ntlworld

    Why are only 2% of new homes being built with older and disabled people in mind?

  2. Dal

    Although a sensible discussion, you can see multiple examples of where this has ruined communities. Big houses are bought by landlords in relatively nice neighbourhoods, sub-divided, and then rented out to anyone who they can squeeze in, whilst living in an ever increasing abodes of their own (often gated). The areas quickly descend into a run down dump.

    A better option would be to shrink the high streets up and down the country that are 50 percent empty. Replace a lot of these, with flats and then what remains of the high street will be revitalised by a close source of customers

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