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.