The big issues nationally might currently be seen as :

Cost & Availability : Young people (especially) being priced out of the housing market as parents and grand-parents benefit from decades of above-inflation increases in value of housing. Housing land value growth has long exceeded house price growth. Currently the growth gap rate is approximately double, not the least due to the decreasing availability of housing land, whether consented or not (yet) without penetration into the green belt. The case for building on the green belt in not proven nationally as, in aggregate, there is numerically no shortage of housing, because the surplus is in the wrong locations for today's economy.

Supply : Building more homes does not automatically reduce house pricing. In recent years, the country has never built more than 180,000 homes in a calendar year against the government target of 220,000 homes (suggested by the Barker Report) and often many thousands less. The newest government target is 300,000 new homes in 12 months – a target almost impossible to fulfil due to the planning system's restricted functionality and the current capacity of the building industry.

Households -v– Dwellings : Over the past decade, households have risen from c23.6m to c26.8m, whereas the number of dwellings has risen from 24.5m to 28.0m. The key factors keeping the gap around 3.5m are : second homes, buy-to-let, and young families living with their parents as they can neither afford to buy nor rent, coupled with the restricted growth of social (or affordable) housing. Currently rental price growth far outstrips both consumer price growth and house price growth, making private renting increasingly difficult for low earners to keep pace.

FoBRA commends our Council for emerging signs of a return to Council-house building within the B&NES area. Visit the short article at: https://www.bathecho.co.uk/news/politics/record-breaking-number-new-homes-built-bath-north-east-somerset-2-76312/?mc_cid=82037db1a5  for more details contained in the video interview. We view this prospect as good news for residents and would-be residents in Bath.

Translating these three big issues into Bath must be the focus on housing for FoBRA. Some of our key concerns include :

• Severe shortage of affordable homes (to buy or to rent) in Bath, considering causes and proposing solutions
• Encouraging B&NES to work with the universities to establish a realistic student housing policy
• Monitoring the control, now established by B&NES, to limit the numbers of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and spread their locations more widely.
• Unoccupied domestic housing, whether above commercial premises, second homes, or deliberately unrented investments
• The proliferation of 'party houses', and the growth of unregulated holiday lets, leading to a hollowing out of communities in the city centre, creating vacant properties turned into more party houses, etc, currently operating unlawfully with incorrect planning use consent, health & safety concerns and without payment of business rates despite operating a business from the premises.

14th Dec 17