John Harris

Journalist & Author

What’s the point of building a million new homes if they’re not fit to live in? | John Harris

The dream of a property-owning democracy is ridden with cracks and leaks: ministers say build, build, build – but then fail to ensure proper regulation

They might be the most ubiquitous feature of the modern English landscape, and yet they barely attract any comment: those sprawling newbuild housing developments that seem to surround almost every town and city, offering a promise of comfort and security and a vital foot on the property ladder.

More often than not, their avenues and culs-de-sac will have faux-bucolic names often ending in “meadows”, “mead”, or “wood”. The life therein seems profoundly modern: stripped of much history or sense of shared experience so that everything suggests the weightlessness of suburbia. Yet for all the outward gleam, something is wrong.

Related: Bovis to pay £7m to compensate customers for poorly built homes

It is all there in the Commons report – housebuilders’ own quality control systems are not fit for purpose

Related: Leaking sewage and rotten floorboards: life on a ‘flagship’ housing estate

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