Sajid Javid has announced details of a new way of calculating housing need on a local basis claiming that it could see over a quarter of a million houses built per year.
In a statement to the House of Commons, the Communities Secretary explained that the policy, originally proposed in the Government’s Housing White Paper, would measure each local authority’s housing need “more objectively”. Javid argued that, if adopted nationally, the method would result in England building approximately 260,000 new homes a year.
Under the proposed model assessments would be based on local ONS household projection data over a 10-year timeframe, and will boost numbers in areas where house prices outstrip average incomes. There will also be a cap set however – target increases will be limited at 40 per cent of the number set in a council’s local plan (or 40 per cent of projected households, should the local authority not have an adopted local plan).
Javid said: “This new approach will cut the unnecessarily complex and lengthy debates that can delay housebuilding. It will make sure we have a clear and realistic assessment of how many new homes are needed, and ensure local communities have a voice in deciding where they go.”
The planned reforms mean that councils will have to agree how they will work with their neighbouring areas to plan for homes and support infrastructure such as roads and utility services.
A new “statement of common ground” envisages better co-operation across council boundaries on planning issues to plan for homes, including in new towns or garden villages. While councils are required to collaborate on infrastructure and housing, evidence suggests that in some parts of the country this is not working effectively.
Neighbouring councils will be expected to set out the cross boundary matters within an agreed area, looking at the housing need for the area, distribution of homes and plans to meet any shortfalls. Following changes to the National Planning Policy Framework expected in 2018, councils will have a year to get a statement of common ground in place.
Rico Wojtulewicz, policy advisor for the HBA, welcomed Javid’s announcement: “We are delighted that the Housing White Paper remains part of the Government’s ambition. Local authorities have failed to enable deliverable supply through their plan-making process. This has not only stifled supply, but the capacity of the local supply chain.
He added: “Local authorities will need to concentrate on making sure local plans deliver a meaningful increase in supply. This will require shifting focus from larger slow-to-deliver sites towards smaller and infill sites which are delivered more quickly, favoured by local communities, and do not exacerbate existing infrastructure.”