So long NIMBYs – hello YIMBYs?

The National Housing Federation recently released its report ‘Demise of the NIMBY: Changing attitudes to building new homes’ (which you can read here). Based on the British Social Attitudes Survey, the NHF’s report indicates a decline in NIMBYism (standing for ‘Not In My Back Yard) across all social and economic groups in the UK.

Overall, support for building homes in a person’s local area has practically doubled between 2010 and 2016. In 2010, only 29% of people supported housebuilding in their ‘backyard’, whilst today this stands at a staggering 57%.

Not only is public opinion shifting in favour of local housebuilding, but people also expressed concern about the type of housing being built. 73% of survey respondents supported homes that a person on an average income could afford showing that the cost of living and the cost of buying is an ever-growing issue for people across the country.

Support for affordable housing permeated all walks of life with both homeowners (68%) and renters (81%) backing the call for more cost-friendly housing options. This support also crossed political boundaries with Conservative (64%), UKIP (72%), Lib Dem (75%), and Labour voters (83%) all seeing the need for the development of affordable housing.

Interestingly, both the North West and London were the most supportive regions in the country when it came to affordable housing, with both areas expressing around 79% support. At first glance, this seems at odds with the recent controversy in Manchester city centre over Gary Neville’s St. Michael’s development, which ended its public consultation this week with 70% of respondents objecting to it. There have also been calls for the Housing Minister to step in on the matter.

Yet, the development two skyscrapers offering luxury flats, a five-star hotel, offices and restaurants is precisely what local communities are not looking for. The £200m redevelopment proposal, which made national news in recent weeks, has been criticised for its disregard for local historical buildings which would be demolished in the process. Whilst support for local housing is increasing, the St Michael’s proposals show the mismatch between demand and design, and how desperately the local community want to be consulted and heard on local planning matters.

The results of the NHF’s report confirm that people are aware of the desperate need in the UK for more housing, and open to the prospect of this being in their local area.  However, the long-awaited Housing White Paper does not follow the attitudes of the general public in this way and instead potentially abandons the narrative of home-owning with a new focus on the private rented sector. This is likely to cause a conflict down the line, and in doing so, will we start to see a new “ism” cropping up across communities in the UK? How about YIMBYism? Yes in my Back Yard!

You can read more about the Government’s Housing White Paper on Kevin’s blog here.

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