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Author: Ross Sturley is principal of Chart Lane, and a committee member for the Chartered Institute of marketing Construction Industry Group (CIMCIG).

New homes, everyone wants them. The population is growing, and the number of households increasing. We need more homes in the UK. The Government has recently announced it wants to see a million new homes built by 2020 – not a target mind, more of an ambition.

House prices are skyrocketing, mainly because of the age old rules of supply and demand, when supply is scarce, prices are high. This of course pushes rents up. It has many effects. Kids carry on living with their parents; families live in homes that are too small; the cost to the public sector of paying private sector rents for homeless families or others they have a duty to house goes up; and so on and so on.

I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t believe we need to build more homes, so given this overwhelming consensus, why is it still a problem? Well, it’s complicated…

Land – There just isn’t enough suitable, available land. Despite that we’ve only built on less than 10% of the country, the rest is inaccessible, uneconomic, unsuitable, or undesirable.

Planning – we’ve got this system that slows development down by allowing local residents to say they don’t like the idea of a load of houses on their doorstep, and it takes forever – the burdens of advanced democracy.

Business – housebuilders, funnily enough, like making a profit. They are private businesses with a duty to deliver dividends to shareholders. This means it is not in their interest to significantly increase output, as this would bring down margins.

Capacity – six years of recession, austerity, and a general lack of investment has seen very few new workers enter the construction labour market, and we now don’t have enough people to build what we’re doing at the moment. Oh yes, and those workers are also needed to build the roads, airports, railways, offices and industrial developments we want to get going, so this is a bit of a pinch point.

So what are the solutions? We could build more roads to more places, spend public money cleaning up dirty land, use up greenbelt, ease the rules around planning so it’s harder for the nimby fraternity to block things, provide housebuilders with incentives to build quicker, invest in training up new workers, or just import a couple of hundred thousand from outside the EU (look away now Nigel!).

The problem is we probably need to do all these things, and still it won’t be enough.

I’ve commented before that This Great Industry of Ours is not as appreciated by Joe Public as it should be. The man and woman in the street thinks builders are all a bunch of cowboys out to rip them off and give a bad service in to the bargain. Housebuilders are, as well as this, “ruthlessly profitable”, and determined to build a load of new homes, and sell them to people who can afford them. It’s a disgrace.

So not only do Mr & Mrs Nimby think the builders are ruining the neighbourhood, and will cheerfully give money to a community fund set up to pay for a doomed Judicial Review bid, they don’t want little Jeremy and Joanna to go in to the construction industry when they grow up.

Now this, surely, is something the marketing community can do something about?

We need to get together and explain to the Nimby community that construction generates value. Far from bringing gridlock to villages across the country, it improves the road network. It makes big contributions to improvements in healthcare and education provision. It pays for a better and safer public realm, and delivers growing communities to support challenged local amenities like shops and pubs.

Why is this argument so difficult? Because it doesn’t need to be made to get an individual planning permission, and because it’s too big an argument to be made by one company.

CIMCIG intends to lead this discussion. How can we show the World that UK Construction Plc is a force for good? Come and have a go with us.

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