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Jeremy's Blog 30th April 2021: Housing

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 29th April 2021.

This CAAV e-Briefing was first issued a year ago as we absorbed the possible length and scale of the pandemic’s challenge and looked for means to support and brief members. The kind comments we have had over the year suggest that it has helped, while the CAAV has both sustained its activity and been recognised again in statute.

Among the year’s themes has been the acceleration of change anyway caused by wider pressures from technology to new markets, coinciding with Brexit but also exposed by the pandemic. The increased emphasis on countering climate change is triggering policies requiring major social and economic change, perhaps earlier for land management and housing. The CAAV’s Future Skills programme has developed to support the good professional advice that will only be more needed.

Last week’s CAAV discussion paper on Future Rural Land Uses in the UK offered another way to understand business change. This note considers some issues for housing.

England’s pressured housing market and declining owner occupation ratio is renewing government pressure for more housing, the increase now shifted into more urban areas taking up property released in the high street. With the discovery of greater working from home, what might be relatively small changes in urban housing markets might now be having significant effects in some rural markets.

Even with that, we have the majority of houses that will exist in 2050. Retro-fitting them for the net zero target will be a major and disruptive task. The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards applied to the let sector are steadily turning a screw, one yet to be seen for the harder (and more political) area of owner-occupied housing and revealing the flaws in EPCs which we have been taking up with governments. At what point might increasing flooding or green standards see some assets “stranded” but perhaps enhance the values of others?

With rural houses seen to create 35 per cent more emissions than urban ones, essentially from heating, these trends come together for estate management. Are let dwellings now a store of value and source of income? Some are reviewing portfolios, seeing what might be sold and so reducing the let sector. Growing regulation might though strengthen the position of those who can manage it and the work of improvement. Doubling electricity use by 2050 might soon see car charging points as expected to sustain rents but, with heat pumps, making new demands on household electric systems as well as supply networks.

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