Councils cut back on new homes targets since planning reforms, claim

Thursday 3rd January 2013

Councils are planning for 272,720 fewer new homes since the abolition of regional planning, says a report.

Local authorities across England have radically reduced their housing targets, according to the Policy Exchange study.

This has contributed to a situation where the Coalition Government could preside over the lowest level of housebuilding since the 1920s, it claims.

Rather than fighting councils, the Government should now work with them to ensure that they deliver the homes their targets propose, argues the document.

The study, ‘Planning for Less’, says that since the revocation of Regional Spatial Strategies in 2010, local authorities have reduced housing targets.

The largest reductions are in the South-East (minus 57,049) and South-West (minus 108,380), which are areas with the greatest housing shortage.

Although the targets are seldom hit, the document says they govern the release of land for housing, so less land will be made available. Without significant changes to the planning system, housing numbers will continue to fall over time, it warns.

But the reportsuggests that the Government should not be too aggressive toward councils reducing targets, except where they are clearly ignoring their responsibilities.

It argues that instead, the Government should focus on ensuring that councils actually deliver the homes their targets propose.

The report proposes increasing the power and number of neighbourhood plans and directly channelling funds from the Community Infrastructure Levy to households affected by new development.
It also suggests converting more brownfield sites into housing.

Report author Alex Morton said: “The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have rightly made it clear that we need to build more homes. Yet the Government is on track to preside over the lowest level of housebuilding since the 1920s.

“Relying on councils to expand housing targets was a mistake.

“However, now the Coalition should focus on fixing the multiple failures with the housing market – not fighting councils. This can help us begin to build the homes we need.”