Sir Michael Lyons, the former chairman of the BBC who is overseeing in Salford one of the largest urban developments in Europe, is by temperament a practical man. He promises he is not interested in “building castles in the air”, but constructing a realistic blueprint for more than 200,000 houses a year being built in England by 2020.
Appointed by Ed Miliband to prepare a plan for Labour to implement in power, he starts by stressing the need for the country collectively to grasp the scale of the problem.
He told the Guardian: “We do need some of the enthusiasm we had in the years immediately after the second world war where we saw it as a duty of government to encourage housebuilding on a much bigger scale.
For the years immediately after WWII were when we had rationing of building materials. Plus the planning acts that restricted the availability of plots. Immediately post war in fact we had piss all house building.
What we’d really like of course is the pre-war attitudes. Where people could build what they wanted, what they thought the market wanted perhaps, pretty much where they wanted to. And, amazingly, lots and lots of houses did in fact get built.
Funny that really, markets working better than bureaucrats.