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UK councils 'increasingly unable' to meet affordable housing demands, Value of new construction contracts down – new figures. And more stories...

This weeks planning news in association with The Planner, the official magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute.


Councils in the UK are increasingly unable to meet demands for affordable housing, with 98 per cent now describing their need as either severe or moderate, according to new research.

The report, published by the Association for Public Service Excellence, and researched and written by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), considers 166 local authorities in Britain. It suggests that just one per cent of councils rate their need for affordable homes as not substantial.

Building Homes, Creating Communities notes the pressure on councils to meet the growing demand for affordable housing because of a lack of new homes being built, and that those that are being built are not affordable to those in need.

It looks at how the cumulative impact of existing housing and planning policies in England – such as the “continued deregulation and reform of the planning system” – has reduced the ability of councils to secure “genuinely affordable homes” for social rent.

Kate Henderson, chief executive at the TCPA, said the incoming government must make tackling the housing crisis a priority.

“An ambition to increase housing numbers is not enough; we need to ensure that the homes that are built are affordable and well designed.”

The study looks at how local authorities are taking a more active role in housing delivery through entrepreneurial approaches, such as setting up local housing.

Paul O’Brien, chief executive of APSE, said more council homes would help to support local economic growth, jobs and skills in the economy.

“Housing could be an effective driver for a renewed industrial strategy, but to achieve this we need to place local councils at the heart of delivery on housing need. That means the future government of whatever political make-up must provide the financial freedoms and flexibility for councils to deliver solutions to our chronic housing shortage.”

Building Homes, Creating Communities makes a number of recommendations, including:

  • The new government must invest in building new homes available for social rent to house essential low-paid workers whose employment underpins an economy on which we all depend. This should be in addition to the need for continued government support for low-cost home ownership, the rented sector and a range of affordable housing products.
  • The new government should continue to support the development of effective strategic planning as part of a clear and logical narrative of local plans in England.
  • The new government should ensure that the definition of an affordable home set out in the NPPF is based on a measure of income and not pegged to an arbitrary proportion of market price.
  • Consideration of local flexibility of fee recovery in the housing white paper is welcome; however, the new government must ensure that sufficient resources are available for the planning service in lower demand areas in order to maintain an adequate, minimum standard of delivery.

23 May 2017
Laura Edgar, The Planner

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