Rise of the ‘Yes-buts’: Majority of Londoners support new housebuilding but remain to be convinced on greenbelt and high-rise

  • Over 60% support new development in their neighbourhood, across the social and political spectrum
  • Over 50% of the public do not accept that building on the Green Belt, or building high rise flats, is necessary to address the housing crisis
  • Almost 70% of Londoners who do not currently own their property do not believe they will own their home in the next five years
  • 60% of today’s Londoners who do not own their property do not believe they will be living in the capital in five years’ time

A new comprehensive poll into public attitudes towards development in Greater London reveals the depth of the dilemma politicians and policy makers face as they try to solve the housing crisis.

The poll, commissioned by communications agency Forty Shillings and carried out by Forefront Market Research, of 1,151 adults living in Greater London shows the public back new housing development in their area amid real pessimism about their own prospects for home ownership.

Over 60% now support new development in their neighbourhood, across the social and political spectrum, but crucially the public care about protecting green space and the quality and affordability of new developments as much as quantity, setting a tough challenge to policymakers and developers.

When asked to rate their priorities in order of importance, building affordable homes was rated most important, closely followed by protecting green space. Respondents rated increasing the supply of homes overall as the least important priority, below creating jobs, improving transport, building new social housing and stopping foreign investors.

Reflecting on the results, Wyn Evans, Managing Director of Forty Shillings said:

“Londoners are increasingly pessimistic about their limited housing choices, which helps to explain why a clear majority now support new homes being built near them. The results suggest that the public do understand that increasing the housing supply is necessary, but they also want to see a greater focus on delivering homes that people can afford. The public’s appetite for new housebuilding is positive news for developers, but the industry must do more to make the case for the housing projects they are currently delivering.”

Alex Crowley, Strategic Director of Forefront Market Research added:

“The solutions industry and policymakers are talking about appear to be quite different from the solutions Londoners are currently prepared to support. Only by listening more to their concerns can promoters and policymakers succeed in building a new consensus around what’s needed to crack this problem. Or we risk good intentions getting stuck in planning committees for lack of public support.”

The poll reveals:

  • When asked to rate their priorities in order of importance, protecting green space was nearly as important as building affordable homes. Respondents rated affordable homes as 8/10 and green space as 7.7/10 on a 0-10 scale of importance.


  • Prioritising affordable homes for locals, using supply to bringing prices down and attractive low-rise development are the most strongly supported arguments. We asked whether people agreed or disagreed with the following statements:
    •  ‘It’s more important to build homes that local people can afford, even if it means fewer homes built’ produced a net positive score of +70%
    • ‘We should build more homes of all types, because more supply will make housing cheaper for everyone’ produced a net positive score of +51
    • ‘We need to build low-rise, attractive housing that people actually want to live in’ produced a net positive score of +71%


  • But the argument about building on London’s Green Belt has not been won and high rise is not yet seen as an acceptable alternative. We asked whether people agreed or disagreed with the following statements:
    •  ‘We need to accept we’re running out of space and start building on the Green Belt’ produced a net negative score of -24%
    •  ‘To protect the Green Belt and build more homes, our only choice is to build high rise flats’ produced a net negative score of -15%


  • When asked to choose the one organisation they have most faith in to deliver their priorities, social housing organisations and local councils came out on top. 26% said they had faith in social housing organisations, followed by 25% who said their local council. By contrast, 12% said private developers, 13% said local businesses and 13% said the Government. Only 8% of Londoners said they had faith in the Mayor of London.


  • Of the political parties, Londoners have the most faith in Labour to deliver their development priorities. 36% said Labour, 20% said the Conservatives and 10% said the Liberal Democrats.


  • A significant majority don’t think they’ll be living in London in five years’ time. When asked if they’ll still be living in London in five years’ time, 60% of non-homeowners said it was either ‘unlikely’ or ‘very unlikely’.

Forty Shillings and Forefront Market Research hosted an event for political and industry figures on Tuesday 19th June to discuss in-depth the findings and the underlying drivers of public attitudes and perceptions towards development in the capital.

If you would like to hear more about what the results tell us about how to engage and involve the public in the planning process, and to arrange a presentation for you and your colleagues, please contact rhys.williams@fortyshillings.com.

For further information about these findings and the data behind them, please contact Michael Hantman at michael.hantman@forefrontmr.com.

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By |2018-06-22T13:51:51+00:00June 19th, 2018|Blog, Forty Shillings, Housing, Politics, Regeneration, Uncategorised|0 Comments