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Developers not meeting affordable housing demand, report suggests

Words: Laura Edgar
Affordable housing / iStock

A new report has suggested that just 2 per cent of councils in England feel new development in their area meets policy requirements for affordable housing.

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) research, supported by the Nationwide Foundation, was compiled from 88 councils responses to a survey. It highlights, the TCPA said, the lack of resources at local authorities trying to meet demand for affordable homes.

It suggests that 70 per cent of respondents saying that they are forced to rely “substantially” on developer contributions to affordable housing.

There have been a number of calls, including from the Local Government Association (LGA), for the government to lift the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) borrowing cap to allow councils greater freedom to tackle the housing shortage in their area.

In the 2017 Autumn Budget, chancellor Philip Hammond outlined plans to lift the HRA borrowing cap for councils in areas suffering pressure on housing affordability.

This was criticised though for only being available in high-value areas.

The report – Planning for Affordable Housing – also found that 39 per cent think their local plan is “not sufficiently ambitious” to meet the community’s affordable housing need. “The government needs to show leadership in the final revised NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) to help councils create ambitious but realistic planning policies for affordable housing,” the report states.

On the new definition of affordable housing in the revised NPPF, 70 per cent of councils said it will not meet the need for affordable housing in their local area, because it omits social rent and links affordability to market prices rather than local incomes.

Henry Smith, projects and policy manager at the TCPA, said: “The current model of delivering affordable housing isn’t ever going to work. Low-paid workers are being pushed further and further out of their towns and cities, enduring longer and costlier commutes and enjoying less time at home. Where will they go? There will be a time when people just stop travelling such long distances to get to work and whole sectors become critically understaffed.

“The government must lift the HRA borrowing cap not only in high-value areas but everywhere. The only way we can ease the demand for all housing types is if councils are given the responsibility to manage their own stock and finally provide some competition for the private sector.”

Richard Blyth, head of policy at the RTPI told The Planner: “The RTPI is not satisfied with the continued definition of affordable housing for rent as only 20 per cent less than market rent.

“Our work on the renaissance of council building homes shows there are other ways outside of ‘developer contributions’.”


RTPI response to the NPPF consultation

Local Authority Direct Provision of Housing

Planning for Affordable Housing can be found on the TCPA website (pdf).

Image credit | iStock