Pandemic 'puts government's 300,000 homes target in doubt'

Reports that the UK "is set to lose out on tens of thousands of new homes this year, with leading developers warning that several months of site closures will put key government housing targets in jeopardy and exacerbate a national housing shortage" feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Financial Times (subscription) reports that major UK housebuilders have told it that the closure of building sites due to the coronavirus pandemic "will undermine the government's target of 300,000 new homes built a year by 2025, up from 241,000 last year." The article quotes David O'Leary, policy director at the Home Builders Federation, the trade association for housebuilders, saying: "It looked like there would be an upward progression [in housing delivery] this year and next year. Now that's obviously not going to be the case. Whether we'd ever have got to [the government's 300,000 home target], I guess we'll never know".

Writing in The Scotsman, Planning columnist Cliff Hague says that the coronavirus pandemic could "reshape" our towns and cities. He writes that universities moving their courses online could have implications for the future demand for student housing, and a greater appreciation of parks and garden cities could also arise from the crisis.

An article in The Times says that potentially "five million cars, vans, lorries, buses and coaches out for rent or on leasing deals" require somewhere to park during the pandemic. It says that "with much of that market in hibernation and with cars, vans, buses, coaches and construction vehicles standing idle, the scramble for secure parking places is on". The paper adds that "it is understood that car rental companies such as Enterprise, Avis and Sixt are busy chasing space to park tens of thousands of cars and vans not being used during the lockdown."

An article in The Guardian says that "a growing number of cities around the world are temporarily reallocating road space from cars to people on foot and on cycles to keep key workers moving and residents in coronavirus lockdown healthy and active while socially distancing." However, it adds that in the UK it is a "very different picture". The piece says: "In London, where traffic has dropped by 63 per cent on main roads, walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman says emergency bike routes on the city's arterial roads would not protect cyclists without complex junction improvements, which would require construction workers to travel during lockdown."

A feature in the FT examines how the coronavirus pandemic has led to a sharp drop in global greenhouse gas emissions, but also delayed global efforts to tackle the climate change crisis.

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