New report: planning system is failing the most deprived areas
Good quality housing is a key element of a good society. As Jonathan Lewis from the Nationwide Foundation writes, many people are ‘unable to find anywhere suitable to live with the income they have available… It affects the schooling and education of children, it restricts employment and social interaction opportunities, and it has a detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing, both physical and mental.’
The TCPA, funded by the Nationwide Foundation, have this week released a report, Planning for Affordable Housing, having engaged with over 120 councils about their experience of delivering affordable housing through the planning system.
The findings from these discussions with councils were submitted in response to the consultation on the government’s revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). According to the report, around 70% of councils said that they rely substantially on the planning system as a driver to deliver the affordable homes that their area needs. Over half of councils have set minimum requirements for social rented homes in their Local Plans but only 2% reported that they were able to meet these targets. There was also dispute over the definition of affordable housing set out in the draft revised NPPF with with over 70% of councils saying they didn’t believe the definition would meet their local area’s needs, due in part to the linking of affordability with market prices rather than local incomes.
The report also finds that the councils in the most deprived areas of England and in greatest need of affordable housing were among those most unable to deliver on their targets. It states that ‘between 2016-17, Blackpool, Knowsley and Pendle—whose residents take home some of the lowest incomes in the country—saw no new affordable housing delivered through the planning system and less than 7% of their requirement met by other means.’ This was not seen in more affluent areas, where some councils ‘were able to deliver 96% of their affordable housing using the planning system.’
Councils reported a conflict between trying to meet the targets for affordable housing set by the government and trying to attract developers, which has resulted in some deprived areas setting their target as low as 5% of all housing units built, when in fact the actual need is sometimes as high as 84%. Henry Smith of the TCPA writes, ‘Many councils are responding to these difficult circumstances by acting in new and innovative ways… but to truly make a dent on these numbers the government needs to immediately increase grant levels for councils and housing associations to enable them to deliver genuinely affordable homes.’
Download the full report here.
Read our blogs on how planning can help contribute to a good society here.