A new paper published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) argues that the Government’s continuing failure to prioritise genuine local housing needs over market demand will perpetuate the housing crisis while wasting precious countryside.
CPRE’s Needless Demand analyses the current method that councils use to plan for local housing and what is being built as a result. It finds that ‘housing need’ and ‘housing demand’ are being conflated in planning policy, with the result that sheer numbers matter more than type and tenure of housing.
CPRE said it had hoped that the government’s new consultation on housing – Planning for the right homes in the right places, published last Thursday – would clearly distinguish between genuine local needs and market demand. In calling for a standardised approach to identifying the needs of different social groups, the government took some steps towards this.
Yet the general thrust of the Government’s plans was to argue that high-demand areas will have to accept more homes to improve the affordability of the housing market. CPRE sees this as neither building the right homes, nor building them in the right places. The likely result is profitable executive homes built on precious countryside in the south east, rather than building what communities across the country actually need.
Trinley Walker, housing policy adviser at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said, “When the Government talks about meeting housing need, what it really means is catering for market demand in the overheated south east. Ministers have for too long shirked the responsibility to make sure we are building the right mix of housing across the country, including homes for first time buyers to social homes to rent.
“Flooding the market with executive homes in the Home Counties will do little to help a young family in Lancashire find a home to rent. We need to be clearer on what we are building and where, for young people and families and for our countryside. Continuing to conflate demand and genuine needs will simply perpetuate this ruinous housing crisis.’
Needless Demand shows how Government could split need and demand, and thereby tackle the housing crisis more effectively. It calls for clearer definitions of ‘need’ and ‘demand’ to be applied to planning policy, and for councils to apply them to their housing targets and local plans. If the market cannot meet genuine local needs, CPRE believes that councils should be empowered by Government to buy land for new affordable housing.
“CPRE defines housing ‘need’ as the number of homes required to house local citizens adequately, based on price, size and suitability. It is often conflated with affordability, which is a key component of need but not the only one. Housing ‘demand’, by contrast, is how much individuals and households are willing to pay in the market.”