Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Councils’ plans fall 30,000 homes a year short of meeting government’s predicted need

Revealed: scale of England’s housing supply crisis

English councils will fall almost 30,000 homes short of meeting housing need each year under the government’s reformed planning system.

Figures obtained by Inside Housing this week show councils are planning for 183,000 homes a year in their adopted or emerging local plans. But government household projection data states 212,500 new homes are needed each year to keep up with demand.

This means the nine English regions will fall 14 per cent short of meeting housing need. The figures will fuel fears that the government’s localism agenda, which ended central housing targets in favour of locally set development plans, could exacerbate the housing crisis.

Pippa Read, policy leader at National Housing Federation, warned that councils ‘must robustly assess the homes that are needed in their areas and plan how they will meet this demand’.

‘Not doing so would be too costly when house building is at its lowest peacetime level since the 1920s, hundreds of thousands of new households are being created each year and millions of people remain on housing waiting lists,’ she said.

Councils have until April to draw up local plans under the government’s new national planning policy framework. Local plans allocate land for housing and justify the scale of development over a period of 15 to 20 years.

The region with the least hope of meeting housing demand is the east of England, where councils are planning just 19,000 homes a year despite needing around 32,000 annually according to government predictions.

John Acres, residential business development director at planning consultancy Turley Associates, said political pressure means councils are less willing to approve development. ‘Local authorities are looking afresh at housing need [in drawing up local plans] and there’s a huge discrepancy between the housing need and what they are prepared to provide,’ he said.

Trevor Miller, shadow cabinet member for strategic housing at Chelmsford Council, which is planning 808 homes a year compared with 1,000 homes cited in household projections, said: ‘Our problem is one of finding the land for housing and the finance for it. There’s plans for some housing in the pipeline at the moment but it’s never as much as we would like.’

Housing supply in numbers

RegionAdopted core strategyAnnual average from adopted core strategyEmerging core strategyAnnual average from emerging core strategyAnnual average total of adopted and emerging core strategyAnnual household projections  Difference between adopted/emerging core strategy and household projections  % difference between plans &  household projections  
North East34343192065925337652965840-544-9
North West 155508909120607411744208351904017959
Yorkshire & Humberside1317106658245025141052076327120-6357-23
East Midlands1353006695222275119091860418920-316-2
West Midlands 139200724019543398451708518440-1355-7
East of England2889201353411959656431917732240-13063-41
South East of England23065212407282305140532646035400-8940-25
South West1346057132305680153942252626200-3674-14
London32215032210  3221029280293010
Total157238896887  182956212480-29524-14

Readers' comments (29)

  • Local Development Prevention Plan led system.

    Time to take the politics out of planning.

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  • Rosa Hooses

    Evan, that's not possible. What you mean is "Time to align planning with my politics".

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  • Gavin Rider

    It looks like we won't have any room for more immigrants, then.

    Better pull up the drawbridge.

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  • Chris

    But if supply is not kept below demand private rental profits cannot be assured as sustainable - as this is the only policy priority in housing for the government then the situation is understandable.

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  • Gavin Rider

    More seriously, the household projections need to be looked at in much more detail rather than just quoting gross numbers, because unless the new housing supply is closely matched to the needs of the new households that are forming, we will end up with the wrong type of housing being built.

    We already have everyone shouting that there are not enough one-bed properties for all the people who will be displaced by the "bedroom tax" to move into. Then we have two thirds of the projected newly-forming households being single person households. That means that we need to build new housing stock that is at least two thirds weighted towards single tenant occupancy, but how many of the homes that are being planned match that demographic?

    Very few, I suspect.

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  • The problem is surely that there is no mechanism for getting the housing built, even if planning authorities identify sufficient land.

    Given that there is hardly a scandal here. There is enough land available through the planning mechanism for the money available to build, or does anyone think that private developers are about to double their output?

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  • Gavin Rider

    "Pippa Read, policy leader at National Housing Federation, warned that councils ‘must robustly assess the homes that are needed in their areas and plan how they will meet this demand’."

    Well, Pippa Read, why doesn't the National Housing Federation's membership improve its own assessments of the local housing need before they decide to build their housing developments?

    We had a housing needs assessment undertaken where I live by one of the NHF's members, and it was an utter joke. There was no attempt made to properly determine what the local housing need was, all they were interested in was "identifying" a large apparent need so that they could build the houses they wanted to build on a rural exception site.

    I put the word "identifying" in that way because in fact they fabricated the evidence to make it look as if there was such a huge local demand for housing that it would justify building almost anything they wanted to on a greenfield site that had conveniently become available (i.e a farmer had sold a field to a developer).

    While the developers and those who help promote developments adopt dishonest tactics like this there will always be strong resistance to their plans, and that will prevent the real housing need that does exist from being satisfied.

    We must have proper assessment of housing need at a local level and the development that is undertaken must be tailored to satisfy the identified local need. This would mean abandoning the allocation policy followed by local authorities, because this always means that the people being allocated the properties after they are built are unlikely to be the ones whose identified need was used to justify the construction in the first place.

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  • Trevor Galley

    We have a weak national housing strategy, its not long term 15/20 years or cross party and as long as housing investment continues to be tied a government’s economic policy it will not change.

    Despite the valiant efforts of many housing associations to generate new build the UK’s current housing policy continues to fail. Housing costs are rising, and this is pushing up government expenditure and that of housing associations trying to maximise investment in new build. We must not forget that almost a fifth of households in Britain live in social housing, this is almost twice the EU average.

    Whilst many Polls show social tenants would like to be owner occupiers - current social housing policies drive unaffordable levels of welfare reliance and increasing poverty for social tenants. employment is a huge factor in aspirations for home ownership social tenants’ have lower rates of employment when compared with similar individuals in the private sector.

    Nationally the need for housing is being pushed up by a number of key drivers
    · Peoples aspirations (Move to better neighbourhoods, home ownership, young people wanting their own homes etc)
    · Immigration
    · Family breakdown, and the creation of two households where there should be only one
    · Regeneration which is unnecessary
    · Lack of consistency on national housing policy
    · RTB homes past and present are not being replaced by a house of the same type
    · A lack of affordable basic no thrills housing to agreed standards and fittings
    · Under occupation
    · There is a clear link that high unemployment leads to increased demand for social housing
    · Huge amounts of empty homes/buildings/land
    · Successive Governments continue to pour money into foreign aid to the decrement of homeland needs.

    So until we have a national strategy that puts real long term investment on the table for social landlords we will continue to struggle to meet demand.

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  • This crisis is rooted in the totally false economy of concensus government policy since 1979 of engineering the lack of supply of social housing by preventing LA's building and the continous reduction in HAG/SHG etc allegedly to comply with saving the public purse whilst deliberately "letting HB take the strain"-

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  • 30,000 short. That's a joke. They won't get anywhere need these target figures.

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