Back Smaller Builders To Tackle Housing Shortage Says Wayne Hemingway

Fashion giant turned urban designer Wayne Hemingway has called on Government to speed up house building for young people.

Mr Hemingway, who famously founded the Red or Dead fashion house, told a meeting of council bosses at the Library of Birmingham that they should emulate Birmingham City Council’s Municipal Housing Trust to tackle the national shortage.

The Housing Trust is currently the largest house builder in the West Midlands with 800 properties under construction and more in the pipeline, and is looking to rapidly expand its output to help meet the city’s target of 89,000 new homes by 2031.

But he said the Government also needed to encourage more smaller building firms to start developing rather than wait for the big construction beasts who he accuses of restricting housing growth to drive up demand and keep profits high.

Mr Hemingway said his staff, many professional young people earning a good living in the creative industries, could never afford a house and have nowhere decent to rent. “Most of them are in constant dispute with their landlords,” he said. “And there are people in a much worse position than them.”

“For those of us over 40 there was a feeling that if you rolled your sleeves up and put a bit of elbow grease you would most likely do better than your parents.”

He added young people today do not have that feeling.

He called for a change in the market to encourage smaller local building firms. Asked what the Government and town halls can do he said: “They can help people who will build faster while working with less margins.

!I know from my years in the industry the big house builders will build more slowly than they could, they will blame staff shortages, they will blame skill shortages but ultimately they often release a certain amount of homes every month which keeps demand up, keeps the price up and doesn’t serve society.

!When we get a big site of 300 or 400 homes it needs to be split among SMEs like Clive Jessup or Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust who all go on to a development and build it out fast.”

He said this will increase the pace and quality of the building through direct competition.”

He went on to praise Birmingham’s architectural renaissance, noting the large amount of construction work around Paradise, Arena Central and Centenary Square. He said: “I think the Library of Birmingham is a fantastic building. Birmingham is being noticed.”

Council leader John Clancy hosted the Local Government Association Conference event with Clive Jessup of Birmingham construction firm Jessup Brothers.

The council used the event to launch its document “Building great homes, creating great places” targeted at other councils and developers.

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