Does building new homes in the East of England affect our key public services?

Wendy Rapacchi's home overshadowed by the new development

Wendy Rapacchi's home overshadowed by the new development - Credit: Archant

Leading audit, tax and advisory service provider KPMG has found that the strains on local education and health services are an obstacle for house building in the East of England.

Back in 2014, KPMG worked with Shelter to publish a report entitled “Building The Homes We Need” and have campaigned for a definitive plan to tackle the housing crisis ever since. Their aim has been to champion planning reform and Government funding diversification of the house building sector to encourage new developers into the market, and more power given to local authorities.

However, their 2015 report shows that traditional concerns over the construction of new homes are being outweighed by concerns over the impact on education and health.

According to the survey, 71 percent of those questioned felt that there isn’t enough affordable housing in the East. Yet 70 percent also said that new developments should only be built if school spaces increase, while 64 percent stressed concerns about the impact on local health provision. 40 percent felt that the issue lies in finding the space to build. 30 percent were worried about the affect on house prices and 42 percent argued that new homes would impact green space negatively.

The large number of people worried about the lack of affordable housing suggests the natural solution would be to build more houses. Yet the corresponding results counteract this notion and local politics can prove to be a barrier. People seem to favour the state of key services more than new homes.

The national concerns around impact on health services are far higher: some 55 percent of people believe new homes will impact health provision and 67 percent believe that developers should contribute to any improvements in local health services. With 39 percent feeling that new builds would have a negative impact on local jobs and 38 percent stating that developments have a negative impact on transport, the overall result shines through - that worries over house prices have fallen well down the list.

“We need to tackle this because these are exactly the sort of concerns which lead to campaigns against new developments and the refusal of planning permission,” says Jan Crosby, Head of Housing at KPMG. “While strain on the NHS and the education sector is constantly in the media, our research confirms that such issues are now a part of the housing crisis. There are areas where our health and education services are already overstretched and more people moving in would be a huge burden. This is why we need far better integration between the NHS, the Department for Education and the housing sector. We must get better at either building new homes at the same time as providing new services, or building new homes where sufficient available services already exist. Our social, transport and health infrastructure are planned and run by a patchwork of different organisations – joining these up more with housing infrastructure is a no brainer.”