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Social landlords say reforms will lead to loss of social homes

Words: Laura Edgar
Affordable housing / Shutterstock_519502300

Most social landlords think the government’s proposals for planning reform will lead to the delivery of less social and affordable housing.

A survey by the Affordable Housing Commission indicates that social landlords believe that the benefits would be outweighed by the disruption the reforms could cause.

Proposals in Planning for the Future state that local plans should identify three types of land – growth areas suitable for substantial development, renewal areas suitable for development, and areas that are protected.

The government’s paper contains aims to make the consultation process more accessible by harnessing the latest technology, deliver homes by ensuring that local plans are in place within 30 months rather than seven years, and guarantee that new homes are “zero-carbon ready”.

Lord Richard Best, chair of the Affordable Housing Commission, said: “The intentions of the government’s planning reforms – to achieve more speedy development and better-quality housing – are commendable; but social landlords fear the reforms could reduce the total output of homes for those on lower incomes. This would be a setback for the Affordable Housing Commission’s aims for a housing-led recovery post-Covid with an emphasis on more affordable homes to rent.”

The survey, based on the views of 54 social landlords, found that:

  • 72 per cent disagreed with the government’s statement that the reforms would deliver the homes the country needs.
  • 85 per cent thought the reforms would lead to fewer social-rented homes.
  • 49 per cent feel they would result in their delivering fewer social-rented homes and 47 per cent think it would result in their delivering fewer affordable homes. But 4 per cent think they would be able to deliver more social homes, and 11 per cent think they could deliver more affordable homes.
  • 83 per cent expect the new national infrastructure levy would deliver less on-site affordable housing than the current system.
  • 63 per cent felt that the potential benefits of the proposals did not outweigh the potential disruption caused by the transition to a new system.

Leigh Pearce, chief executive of the Nationwide Foundation, commented that the organisation is “deeply concerned” that Planning for the Future does not set out plans for how enough “genuinely” affordable homes will be delivered.

“It is worrying to see the findings that social landlords believe that the new fixed-rate infrastructure levy would not result in the same or increased levels of affordable housing and that they think it will lead to fewer social homes. This is set against a backdrop of already very low delivery of new social-rented homes in recent years. Therefore, we call on government to give more consideration to how the planning reforms will ensure genuinely affordable homes are built and in greater numbers.”

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