Saturday, 28 March 2015

Ministers urged to define affordable housing

Campaigners have called on the government to strengthen the definition of affordable housing in planning reform.

In a select committee hearing on the national planning policy framework yesterday, Roger Harding, head of policy, research and public affairs at Shelter, said the definition of what constitutes affordable housing should be more clearly set out in planning documents.

‘There’s a risk that local authorities might get to the situation where they’re not building affordable housing – or housing that’s not affordable for people who live there.’

He also said that councils will need more guidance to produce housing needs assessments to build the number of homes that are needed: ‘There should be national guidance and national support on what detail local authorities should use on their local plans. There are a lot of benefits for local authorities to get together to [produce housing plans].

‘The affordable housing needs of London can’t be solved in London alone.’

The national planning policy framework has drawn criticism from the Campaign to Protect Rural England for failing to protect green belt land. But Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the CPRE, told the MPs that he was sorry the debates had centred on one issue: ‘It is regrettable that we’ve had this huge storm,’ he said. ‘If the government is listening and the Communities and Local Government department is in control then it’s possible to get a document which will get broad support from across the parties concerned.’

He also called for a second round of consultation on the NPPF ‘because the way the document was put together – without a green paper, without a white paper – meant this storm happened’.

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