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Minister makes house-building plea
2:12am Thursday 10th January 2013 in © Press Association 2014
People must accept more house-building or face "propping up their kids and grandkids" in the years ahead, the coalition Planning Minister has warned.
Nick Boles said the shortage of affordable housing was now the biggest threat to social justice in the UK and insisted greenfield sites had to be developed to tackle the problem. He claimed that England was not "massively overdeveloped".
"We need to build more, not all of it can be satisfied by empty homes and 'brownfield' sites, so we will need to build quite a lot on currently undeveloped land. England is not massively overdeveloped," he told the Daily Telegraph.
Mr Boles said people had to realise that "either they will spend their retirement propping up their kids and their grandkids, or they can accept more development so their grandkids don't have the problem".
"I genuinely think that the single biggest way in which we are failing to deliver social justice in this country at the moment is unaffordable housing - more than schools, more than jobs, more than benefits," he said.
Mr Boles' comments come ahead of a speech he is giving to the Policy Exchange think-tank. The Conservative minister previously provoked controversy when he suggested in November that a third more of the country should be built on to solve the housing crisis.
"In the UK and England at the moment we've got about 9% of land developed. All we need to do is build on another 2-3% of land and we'll have solved a housing problem," he said at the time.
Mr Boles said communities would be offered cash, which he described as a "bung", in return for accepting new housing. The money, potentially worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, would be taken from an existing levy on developers.
"What we've decided is that for those areas that have a neighbourhood plan and get it through a referendum then 25% of the revenues from the community infrastructure levy will go to the neighbourhood to spend on what the hell you like," he said on BBC2's Newsnight. "That money will come to you if you build new houses."
He described the money as a "bribe", adding laughingly: "I wanted to call it the Boles bung." Mr Boles warned that Britain was heading back to the 19th century when only the rich were able to own homes.