George Clarke: “Britain needs a big, positive, and radical reboot”

The architect and TV presenter’s social housing masterplan has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic. In this week’s Big Issue, he issues a rallying cry to rebuild Britain with affordable and environmentally friendly homes

George Clarke’s no stranger to building things – but even he must have been surprised at how quickly his social housing campaign grew last year.

The architect, TV presenter and social housing champion asked the Government to end the housing crisis that has gripped Britain for years by building 100,000 affordable homes every year for the next 30 years.

And plenty of people agreed with him – more than 265,000 people signed his petition, released to mark the 100th anniversary of the Addison Act that put housing in the hands of councils.

But, in a piece written exclusively for this week’s Big Issue magazine as part of our After the Virus series, Clarke reveals that the pandemic has sent the campaign back to its foundations. He’s now been forced to delay the next steps of his mission to get Britain building to 2021.

DID YOU KNOW…

In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.

And he tells The Big Issue that the virus needs to represent a chance to rethink how we do things, particularly when it comes to housing.

“We cannot let this virus send us backward. Against all odds, we need to be positive and push forwards,” Clarke says. “For me, if there is one positive thing that should come out of this horrendous pandemic and difficult lockdown it’s for our government, our businesses and corporations, and for everyone in society to take the time to consider how we might live our lives differently in Britain to the benefit of EVERYONE in the country.

“Covid-19 is indiscriminate and in some ways, you could say it has levelled out society. It has shown that every single one of us is vulnerable because we have all been affected by this. But, unfortunately, some are more far more vulnerable than others.”

To read more from Clarke as well as funny men Ricky Gervais, Romesh Ranganathan, Rob Beckett and Russell Howard, get your hands on this week’s Big Issue magazine.

You can pick up your copy in Sainsbury’s, McColl’s, Co-op, Asda and WH Smith or on The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store and Google Play.

You can also subscribe to receive the latest copy every week to your device through the app or in print to your door. Head to bigissue.com/subscribe for details.

As ever, 50 per cent of the proceeds from every purchase go towards Big Issue vendors, helping The Big Issue support them through self-isolation while they are temporarily unable to sell the magazine on the streets.

George Clarke presents The Restoration Man and George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces and is founder of housing charity MOBIE

This article is part of The Big Issue’s ongoing After The Virus series. To read more brilliant people plotting a path for Britain beyond the pandemic lockdown, head here.