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Strictly’s Greg Wise has a plan to solve the housing crisis

“Property is built to live in. It is not a commodity, it is a right. That shouldn’t be crazy talk, should it?” says Strictly’s Greg Wise.

Actor. Activist. Dancer. The talents of Greg Wise know few limits (although his Strictly Come Dancing samba was not one of the all-time-greats). But housing expert? You better believe it.

As Wise returns to the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom for one last dance at the glitzy final on Saturday, we asked the trained architect how to solve the housing crisis…

“In 12 words or less? We fix Britain’s housing crisis by – oh god, where do I fucking start? Here’s a big one: you shouldn’t be able to pay your way out of building affordable housing. Unfortunately, almost all the schemes that have a legal requirement to include affordable housing can pay the fine and just not do it.

“We have no affordable housing anymore. It’s gone. And the attitude is: ‘we’re building this big bit of loveliness for posh people, we don’t want to have the poor folk living here’.”

It should be illegal to own a property and not live in it”

“And if 30% of the expensive housing being built is lived in, I would be surprised. Everything is bought as an investment. So we are fucked, because if the interest rate is a 0.25% and the average increase in house prices is 7% per year, what do you do with your money? You don’t put it in the bank, you buy property. And you don’t want anyone living in it – you don’t want your skirting boards scuffed.

“There was a development near where I live where every unit was sold before they’d start digging a hole. Half the units were re-sold before they’d finished. And this probably has, at most, 50% occupancy. So most of it was just bought as an investment.

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This is Tory damage, isn’t it?

Greg Wise

“There are ways of working out whether a place is lived in. It’s like the old brass plaque companies, you know? Where you can start a company for 50 quid and that’s a way of channelling tax avoidance.

“This is Tory damage isn’t it? It’s Persimmons and everyone, who all give the Tories half a million or whatever and all end up being knighted. And fucking Robert Jenrick bending over backwards to try to get Richard Desmond planning permission for all his shit.

“But the amount of brownfield sites that aren’t being used and the number of buildings that aren’t being lived in – that’s what is most cruel and most evil. Because these places are there.

“So it should be illegal to own a property and not live in it. Or you should be taxed through your nose so it’s just not worth your while investing in.

“Property is built to live in. It is not a commodity, it is a right. That shouldn’t be crazy talk, should it? But at the moment it’s a radical notion.”

The Strictly Come Dancing final is on 18 December

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