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June 22, 2021

The scourge of the volume housebuilder

The volume housebuilders generally get a pretty bad press – often poor quality construction and design, inflated prices and vast profits – and yet they seem to be the only show in town when it comes to resolving our  housing crisis. Last week, a packed public meeting (if there can be such a thing on Zoom) organised by Planning Democracy gave a platform to the academic Bob Colenott who explained how and why the volume housebuilder has been able to capture the housing market. There are however alternative models and PD are planning a campaign to promote them.

Planning Democracy

We had an inspirational event on Tuesday 15th June – Scotland’s Housing Crisis: Tackling the Volume Housebuilders. It included a highly informative talk by Bob Colenutt author of The Property Lobby: The Hidden Reality Behind the Housing Crisis followed by some really informed debate and finishing with a call to action. Watch the recording of Bob’s talk here and the slides from the talk here. We have also produced a guide to why housing needs to be done differently and what we are suggesting as solutions – download the guide from our Resources page.

The issue of housing is high on the political agenda, it is a thorny and complex issue. Because it creates winners and losers it is highly divisive.

There is a shocking lack of affordable and social housing. Too many people lack access to decent, affordable homes.

Yet there are increasing numbers of large scale luxury housing estates being proposed on agricultural land and greenfield sites in the central belt, threatening the quality of our towns, villages and urban fringes.

Meanwhile there are 11,000 hectares of unused vacant and derelict urban sites in Scotland, where people do want houses to be built.

The quality of house building is being called into question and the location of many housing developments are unsustainable and inappropriate due to lack of infrastructure.

The Scottish Government declare house building targets every year, yet the problems persist.

Land speculation, powerful lobby groups, the financialisation of housing and an over reliance of the private sector to deliver our housing lie at the heart of the problem. This event helped people understand how we might begin to tackle the issues. Anyone interested in joining our new campaign should email us on We will be meeting on the 5th July to discuss the way ahead.