Sunday, 29 March 2015

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

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