Uncovered: The true extent of the UK's supply crisis
We’ve heard it many times before—most major UK news outlets in the past decade have periodically reported the significant lack of house-building, the dwindling housing supply and the rising demand for housing across the entire nation.
There are countless statistics that prove this. The UK needs around 300,000 new houses per year to satiate demand according to The Telegraph, yet could only build under half this figure (142,890) in 2014/15. House prices have reached a record high (£581,825 in London, £217,928 nationwide) as prices reflect the unsustainable demand. There are over 10 people interested in each and every property that comes onto the market. Over 1.54 million people have been ‘gazumped’—that is, priced out of the property they were intending to buy by a higher offer.
However, there are some statistics you don’t know that will support the UK's supply crisis. Did you know, for example, that more than double the land allocated to housebuilding is currently taken up by golf courses in England? Data from Inside Housing shows that golf courses in England alone accounts for roughly 2% (270,000 hectares) of the country’s total land area (13.4m hectares), the equivalent to one-fifth of England’s total built up area. These statistics are even more shocking when put into a wider perspective—the space taken up by golf courses in England alone in terms of square metres is larger than the total land area of Luxembourg, a European country with a population of 543,202.
This certainly supports the notion that only 10% of land in England is classified as urban, according to the UK's National Ecosystem Assessment—but further analysis shows that a startlingly low proportion (2.27%) is built-up land (with just half of this figure (1.1%) actually utilised for homes), with the remaining 7.7% of ‘urban’ space filled up by gardens, parks, roads and the like. So this begs the question—what is the other 90% of England’s land used for?
All we know for sure is that, given these statistics, the UK housing market is indeed in crisis.