The U.K. is hungry for affordable housing. U.K. home ownership is down to 63% from 69% in 2000. That's the fourth lowest in the EU. 11 million Britons now rent privately. Some because it suits them. Most because they can't afford to buy. Our country is screaming for innovative buying and renting solutions.
So Nigel Wilson's comments are welcome. It is time to ask, "how green is the green belt?" And, where the answer is "a bit brown", to build on it.
The north London green belt begins near my house. Some of it is a sensible green corset to keep in London's spread. But much of it is ugly M25 fringe sprawl. Building on it would do it a favour.
But green belt building is not the panacea road out of the housing crisis. We also need to build more densely within our cities. Paris and Barcelona are much denser than London, but not noticeably less beautiful. We need to build masses of low and medium rise apartments in "the spaces in-between" - brown or otherwise. Only then can we make the space in our cities yield the housing it should.
Finally, with the housing white paper imminent, a personal appeal. This country needs a crusade for housing. All sectors, build to sell and build to rent, housing associations and local authorities, must work as one to solve our housing crisis - that blot on the national conscience.
And most of all, we need a mass, modular council house building programme. Then we can house our poor and vulnerable people again; just as our visionary predecessors did after the world wars. A decent country must house its poor people. We must make sure we can tell our grandchildren that we did so.
One of the UK's largest housebuilders has called for a "critical reassessment" of green belt land to help solve Britain's housing shortage. Legal & General chief executive Nigel Wilson said that if 1% of green belt was released for building, it would be enough for up to one million new homes. And the L&Q housing association said Britain faced a choice: build on "green field" or continue with a shortage. The comments come ahead of a major government announcement on housing. A controversial white paper on revitalising England's housing market, which has been delayed three times, could now be published next week.