New affordability test will increase pressure on countryside and provide little affordable housing
Wednesday, 28 August 2013 14:18
Draft new government planning guidance proposes a new ‘affordability’ test, supposedly based on a simplistic economic view that releasing more land for new housing will bring down prices. This so-called ‘affordability test’ is likely to result in unnecessary loss of countryside and deliver very little affordable housing.
This is the initial response of CPRE to the launch of a new Government website on planning.
Ollie Miller, Housing Campaigner at CPRE, said:
‘There is an urgent need for improvements to planning for new housing to meet the growing need for the right housing in the right place. Despite Government commitments to localism and the Green Belt, over 150,000 dwellings are proposed on Green Belt land and there is mounting evidence of local councils being overruled by Government Inspectors.’
‘Councils need more powers to decide the type of new housing needed in their area and where it should be located. Yet, the new test risks yet more countryside being built on unnecessarily against the wishes of local communities.’
‘Despite all the talk of localism, the lack of appropriate national planning guidance means local authorities can’t plan for the right housing in the right places. Sadly today’s announcement looks set to make matters far worse. We will be doing all we can to encourage the Government to rethink its approach.’
New affordability test will increase pressure on countryside and provide little affordable housing - Campaign to Protect Rural England
The government sees it differently:
£3.5 billion deal to build homes and drive local growth - News stories - GOV.UK
It does seem that politicians are keen to promote the idea of 'affordable housing' - for example in New York we have the Bloomberg legacy:
Mike Bloomberg's Affordable Housing Botch
However, the equation of more land supply = lower property prices does seem to make sense:
We can have affordable housing if we have the political will to change - Telegraph
But there are alternatives to grandiose promises:
Community explores creative options for more affordable housing
To return to the CPRE report:
Planning for Housing Affordability
Why providing more land for housebuilding will not reduce house pricesWe commissioned independent consultants Green Balance to conduct research into the relationship between planning, housing land supply and housing affordability. Our research found that increasing the supply of land for housing would make little difference to housebuilding rates or house prices. The report makes some recommendations which need to be reflected in future Government policy on housing needs.
Increasing land supply – that is, allocating land for
development and then granting planning permission on
it when developers submit planning applications – will
not necessarily cause more dwellings to be built. The
case studies have found a variety of market
circumstances where the land supply made little
difference: the decision to build (or not) was more
strongly influenced by other factors. Those are more
likely to be land-banking by the building industry, a
more pragmatic assessment of the quantity of building
which the market will sustain, risk aversion, and other
structural problems within the building industry (notably
involving deficient skills, innovation and competition).
For the planning system the implications are clear.
Releasing more land in order to reduce house prices
would not work. There is a clear requirement for
sufficient sites to be available for development, with
‘sufficient’ in effect currently established in planning
policy as five years’ supply of deliverable land.
Allocating more land may increase the flexibility on offer,
but would create other costs. There would be more
uncertainty about where development will take place
and the risk that developers will spurn locations where
new house-building can do the most good in favour of
those which offer the highest profits. Resolving
problems of housing affordability with the assistance of
the planning system will require long term commitments
to more planning rather than less, a co-operative
approach to meeting wider social objectives, and an
acceptance that the easy short term option of allowing
the housing market to dictate the pattern of development
would have to be foregone.
Planning for Housing Affordability - Executive Summary - Campaign to Protect Rural England
And, finally, CPRE's own proposals for creating more affordable housing:
Housing the Nation
Meeting the need for affordable housing ? facts, myths, solutions
It is clear that there needs to be a significant increase in the provision of affordable housing – in both urban and rural areas. This briefing suggests what might be done to achieve this objective while ensuring that the countryside is protected from unnecessary development and the best use is made of existing urban land and buildings. It defines the extent and nature of affordable housing needs, challenges some of the myths surrounding the issue, and proposes measures that might be adopted nationally and locally to tackle it.