Housing targets may pressure developers into building unwanted homes

May 31, 2018 / Isla MacFarlane
Housing targets may pressure developers into building unwanted homes

Government housebuilding targets risk allowing just under 165,000 new homes to bypass scrutiny by the local community, a new analysis by the Local Government Association warns today.

The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils across England and Wales, is calling for the government to scrap its planned changes to the National Planning Policy Framework which will impose often “undeliverable” housebuilding targets on local areas and penalise councils and communities left powerless to ensure they are met.

Under the Government’s plans, local areas will be expected to meet new housing targets imposed by Whitehall. If, by 2020, private housebuilders fail to build more than 75% of those targets, then developers will be able to ignore sites agreed locally and build in places that communities did not want to include in local plans.

As a result, more than half of the target homes – just under 165,000 homes in 42% of council areas – could be built by bypassing local plans by the end of the decade.

This means housebuilders will be able to avoid other key factors expressed in local plans, such as making sure the right types of homes are built in the right places, to ensure these homes have appropriate infrastructure, and built to high standards, and that enough affordable homes needed locally are actually provided.

The LGA is calling on the government to replace measures that allow developers to build outside a local plan with more positive tools for councils to ensure sites with planning permission are built out more quickly.

Cllr Martin Tett, LGA Housing spokesman, said, “The planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding – the opposite is true. Councils are approving 9 in 10 applications and last year worked with developers to approve 350,000 new homes, the highest in more than a decade.

“It is completely unfair to impose targets on communities which can only be met by private developers, and then to penalise those local communities if those builders do not deliver.

“This risks leading to a housebuilding free-for-all which will bypass the needs of local communities and could damage trust in the planning system. The government needs to scrap these plans to avoid this alarming scenario playing out across the country.

“Councils are committed to ensuring homes are built where they are needed. It is vital that they have an oversight of local developments and are given the powers needed to play a leading role in solving our national housing shortage.”

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