Last month the government published its follow up to the White Paper; Fixing our Broken Housing Market, delivering on its promise to consult on a proposed standardised method for calculating local housing need (including transitional arrangements).
Rural Solutions will be providing detailed responses to the consultation before the deadline of 9th November. In the meantime James Podesta, Head of Planning, offers these thoughts on the consultation…
‘I think that most parties with an interest in utilising housing need figures would welcome a common starting position, however, I would think that it is also important for local planning authorities to retain an element of flexibility in calculating their need in order to accommodate specific issues affecting the housing market in their area.
The consultation does highlight two key areas that are both intriguing and have potentially wider reaching consequences; the first is the requirement for a statement of common ground between local planning authorities and the second is the initial figures that the new methodology has provided.
On the first point, the government is suggesting that these statements should be in place no later than a year after the publication of the proposed changes to the NPPF next March. This does not leave long for local planning authorities to agree cross-boundary positions on housing need, with local authorities, especially as they often share boundaries with more than one other authority. It will be interesting to see how they work together on these issues and whether they come together to form localised or more regional groups around this specific issue.
The second point is that the numbers that the new methodology has provided so far show a broad division between northern and southern local planning authorities that has seen projected housing need reduced in the north and increased in the south. On first consideration this may appear to be an accurate reflection of most people’s understanding of housing need (i.e. that it is more acute in southern England), but it could lead to an exacerbation of the status quo. The governments Northern Powerhouse programme is supposed to be improving the economic performance of the north and new housing is a key part of that programme necessary to support jobs in these.’