New plans have been announced by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, which will aid in the delivery of much needed new homes.
Innovative new planning measures will help new, affordable, homes to be built where they are most needed, and save councils millions of pounds every year.
The new approach, which was first mooted in the government’s housing white paper, will help give a realistic picture of how many homes each local area needs now and in future years. This will help more homes to be built in areas where it is unaffordable, based on average earnings in each area.
Some £3M a year is spent by local councils across England on consultants to work out how many new home are needed in an area, and long legal disputes can arise when preparing local plans, leading to unnecessary delays and costs.
The proposed changes will help boost housing supply and improve affordability, giving Councils a consistent approach to plan for more homes in the right places.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “As anyone who has tried to buy or rent a home recently would probably tell you, the housing market in this country is broken. The simple truth is that for far too long we haven’t built enough homes and we don’t build them quickly enough.
“It’s time to fix that. This new approach will cut the unnecessarily complex and lengthy debates that can delay house building. It will make sure we have a clear and realistic assessment of how many new homes are needed, and ensure local communities have a voice in deciding where they go.”
Assessing housing is only the starting point in the preparation of Local Plans. Councils then need to work with their local communities to take account of green belt and any other constraints, discuss with adjoining councils, and decide how many homes they can build, and where, as well as working together to provide infrastructure for the new homes such as roads and utilities.
The House Builders Association (HBA) has welcomed Javid’s announcement, as it will make local authorities responsible for cooperating with regional SMEs in the supply chain to deliver the right homes in the right places.
Rico Wojtulewicz, policy advisor for the HBA, said: “The Housing White Paper was a meaningful first step in solving the housing crisis and we are delighted that it remains part of the Government’s ambition. Local authorities have failed to enable deliverable supply through their plan-making process. This has not only stifled supply, but the capacity of the local supply chain.”
“To meet the Government’s challenge, local authorities will need to concentrate on making sure local plans deliver a meaningful increase in supply. This will require shifting focus from larger slow-to-deliver sites towards smaller and infill sites – which are delivered more quickly, favoured by local communities, and do not exacerbate existing infrastructure.”
While, Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s Housing spokesman, has reservations, he said: “Councils know that the only way to tackle our housing crisis is to build more homes, and the right types of homes needed for our communities. Councils already approve nine in ten planning permissions, but are often frustrated when approved homes aren’t built quickly enough.
“There could be benefits to having a standard approach to assessing the need for housing, but a formula drawn up in Whitehall can never fully understand the complexity and unique needs of local housing markets, which vary significantly from place to place. It is crucial that councils and communities can lead new development in their areas.
“Our residents are clear – new homes in their communities have to be affordable, high-quality, and supported by adequate infrastructure and sustainable local services. The only way to do this is to make sure that councils, who are closest to the communities they serve, have the powers and funding they need to deliver homes that are right for their local area.
“This means powers to make sure developers build out approved homes in a timely fashion, adequately funding planning departments so that they can cover the cost of processing applications, and freeing councils to borrow to build quality new homes communities want and need.
“Ultimately we need a renaissance in council house building if we’re to deliver the affordable homes this country needs – national ambitions will not be realised without new freedoms and powers for councils.”