To meet the Government’s aspirations for the build out of new homes to help deliver 300,000 new homes per year, the Government needs to provide councils with the tools to encourage and oblige developers to build out sites with permission in a swift and timely manner.
- Councils already play a vital role in housing supply as planning and housing authorities, as partners with house builders and registered providers, as direct builders, as providers of homes for the most vulnerable and as local place leaders. Local authorities have historically played a key role in delivering housing at scale in England.
- Analysis undertaken in 2019 showed that councils were planning to build more than 77,000 homes in the next five years, and while the implications of COVID-19 will impact these projections, councils remain well placed to take a lead role in housebuilding.
- Planning is not a barrier to housing delivery and growth. Nine in 10 planning applications are approved by councils, and there are more than a million homes given planning permission in the last decade not yet built. 2,782,300 homes have been granted planning permission by councils since 2010/11 but over the same period only 1,627,730 have been built. In addition, LGA analysis shows that developers are yet to seek planning permission for more than a million earmarked homes.
- Councils need the tools to both require and incentivise landowners and developers to build high quality homes in a timely way once planning permissions or local plan allocations are given.
- Councils are committed to getting homes built where they are needed but do not have all the planning powers to ensure it happens once planning permission has been granted. To meet the Government’s aspirations for the build out of new homes to help deliver 300,000 new homes per year, the Government needs to provide councils with the tools to encourage and oblige developers to build out sites with permission in a swift and timely manner.
- Post-pandemic, people want their local area to have high-quality affordable homes built in the right places, supported by the right infrastructure, which provides enough schools, promotes greener and more active travel, and tackles climate change. This can only be achieved through a locally-led planning system with public participation at its heart which enables councils to deliver resilient, prosperous places that meet the needs of their communities. Building Back Locally will ensure that we support the Government’s goal to Build Back Better, driving up housing supply and supporting local areas to deliver more safe, secure, housing that meets local needs.
- The LGA supports the Government’s increased focus on design, which should include thinking about how places work within their wider context, their ability to adapt and mitigate for the effects of climate change, beyond individual houses, developments, and their aesthetics. The Government’s proposals to allow ‘beautiful’ development to be fast-tracked may not lead to the quality homes and places communities want and need. Councils need tools that will empower them to create great quality homes and places and stop poor development, rather than supporting those deemed to be ‘beautiful’.
- As the we set out in our response to the Government’s consultation into Supporting Housing Delivery and Public Service Infrastructure, the LGA is also concerned about proposals for new permitted development rights (PDR). The Government’s own research highlighting how conversions to residential through change of use PDR can fail to meet adequate design standards, avoid contributing to local areas and create worse living environments. The report also found that PDR undermined the ability of councils to bring about positive changes to their places by limiting their influence to repurpose town centre assets. Councils and their communities have already been left with a long-term legacy of negative impacts resulting from some of the 19 amendments to the General Permitted Development Order since 2015.
- Only a publicly financed substantial programme of council house building supported by Government grants for construction will help the Government meet its target of 300,000 new homes. This means cooperation and partnership across the sector, including Government, councils, housing associations, landowners/developers, and the construction sector. Since 2018, new homes have delivered almost £148 billion of construction output, of which 16 per cent was delivered by the public sector.
- Councils play a key role in helping tackle the national housing shortage. To do this councils need to be empowered to build more affordable, good quality homes at scale, and fast, where these are locally needed. A genuine renaissance in council housebuilding is required to boost housing supply, help families struggling to meet housing costs, and tackle housing waiting lists.
- Councils have been proactively addressing the challenge of building more homes, and with more help they could make a significant contribution. Analysis undertaken in 2019 showed that councils were planning to build more than 77,000 homes in the next five years, and while the unforeseeable implications of COVID-19 will impact these projections, councils remain well placed to continue housebuilding.
- In the LGA’s paper ‘Delivery of council housing: a stimulus package post-pandemic’ we set out the steps, measures and reforms that would support councils to work towards delivering a new generation of 100,000 high quality social homes per year.
- In August 2020, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG, now DLUHC) published the Planning for the Future White Paper with proposals for long-term fundamental structural changes to England’s planning system.
- Subsequently, in the Queen’s Speech on 11 May 2021, a Planning Bill to implement the White Paper planning reforms was announced however it has faced delay with an expectation it will be brought forward with the Levelling Up White Paper in January 2022.
- The current proposals lack the detail needed for full debate and comment. This has led to wide-ranging concerns about how the proposals would work in practice. Whilst we recognise the Government’s aspiration to improve the current system, without addressing many of the detailed issues, there is a significant risk that proposed changes could have a detrimental effect on the planning system.
- The LGA has raised concerns about the timing of a wholesale overhaul of the existing system and change to a new system, including the necessary legislation. This will create uncertainty and take many years to deliver and implement across Whitehall and the wider planning sector. Constant changes to national planning policy over successive Government administrations have undermined councils’ critical role in placemaking. Austerity measures have further cut vital resources for council staff and capacity necessary to lead on and carry out this work.
- As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic we need stability and certainty in planning, supported by the appropriate resourcing. The LGA’s Keep Planning Local campaign calls for a locally-led planning system in which councils and the communities they represent have a say over the way places develop. This will ensure the delivery of high-quality affordable homes with the necessary infrastructure to create sustainable, resilient places.