Inside report: how all-powerful housebuilders like Persimmon have created a national housing crisis

It’s a crisp morning, and an enthusiastic bunch of Under-10s footballers run out onto the pitch. They’re in full kit – red and black stripes, black shorts and red and black socks, the colours of Saffron Walden Community FC in North Essex.

But these ultra-keen youngsters have no fixture this pre-lockdown weekend. They’re not allowed to play football, or even train, on the ground where they’re now standing. It’s the result of a ridiculous legal stand-off between the local council and one of the UK’s biggest housebuilders. A shortage of pitches locally means there is nowhere else to play.

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