BRITAIN would have to build “probably 300,000 homes a year” to help the housing market to recover, a discussion hosted by Lloyds Banking Group has heard.

Business leaders and policy makers came together to plot a future beyond the pandemic in the South East as part of a UK-wide programme of events hosted by Lloyds Banking Group.

The discussion, Building the South East Back: Helping the Housing Market Recover, was part of The Big Conversation: Helping Britain Recover.

Chaired by Michelle Blayney, Lloyds Banking Group’s ambassador for the South East, The Big Conversation panel outlined some of the biggest challenges facing the housing market in the region and also looked to the future to think of creative ways the economy can be mobilised to help it recover.

Peter Truscott, chief executive of housebuilder Crest Nicholson, told the event: “Housing is no different to any other commodity and for a generation, we have simply not built enough homes to meet the demand.

“There are a number of reasons for that but there is no quick fix solution. I’m sad to say that it’s taken 20-30 years to get to this position and it will take a long time to recover that. It is necessary to build disproportionately more homes, probably 300,000 a year, for quite some time to catch up.”

He said the planning and regulatory system meant that “it takes twice as long now to get through the process of building a home than it did when I started out”.

He called for the creation of “mixed communities”, with people able to move from rented homes to shared ownership and fully-owned homes.

Ben Everitt, Conservative MP on the Commons’ housing, communities and local government committee, said the housing market was “broken at every stage”.

“When we talk about a housing market, we have to realise it’s not really a market in the way that we know it, it’s actually just a series of market interventions that have collided with each other over the last few decades,” he said.

He added: “I would start with a large scale council house building policy but where we go from then on needs to be led by what we now know about where the houses need to be, where the demand is and what consumer expectations are.”

Eastleigh MP Paul Holmes, who sits on the same parliamentary committee, agreed with the need for council house building.

But Peter Truscott of Crest Nicholson argued against major council house building, saying it would be “competing for the same resources”.

Anne-Marie Mountifield, chief executive of Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, said the coronavirus crisis presented an opportunity to look at the skills shortage in construction.

She said the Civil Engineering Training Centre at Fareham College was addressing the issue. “It starts at entry level, providing young people and adults looking for a new career with their licence to practice. It takes them right through, for those that want to, to looking at degrees in architecture and building design.”