Town hall chiefs warn of affordable housing crisis if Tory plans get go-ahead

Tens of thousands of affordable homes would not have been built under Tory proposals to overhaul planning rules, town hall leaders warn today.

Hard-up families would have missed out on nearly 30,000 affordable properties in the past five years, according to the Local Government Association.

The Government is considering axing the requirement for developers to build affordable housing on small sites as part of its planning system shake-up.

Ministers are consulting on whether to scrap the condition for construction sites where fewer than 40 or 50 homes would be built.

a close up of a wire fence: The Local Government Association says levels of affordable homes could plummet

                                           © PA The Local Government Association says levels of affordable homes could plummet

A study for the LGA by industry analyst Glenigan shows that between 2015/16 and 2019/20, 119,505 private homes were built on sites of 10 to 49 units.

Based on an average of developers being required to make 25% of new housing affordable, this would have included 29,876 affordable homes for either rent or purchase.

A regional breakdown shows the scale of the potential loss of affordable housing across the country over the past five years if the requirement had not existed.

The East Midlands would have missed out on 2,941 affordable properties; the East of England 3,587; the North East 1,360; the North West 3,920; the South East 5,337; the South West 3,757; the West Midlands 3,236; Yorkshire and the Humber 2,742; and London 2,993.

a large white building: The Lib Dems are promising 300,000 new homes every year

                                         © PA The Lib Dems are promising 300,000 new homes every year

The LGA wants councils to be allowed to decide how many affordable houses should be part of developments.

Housing spokesman David Renard said: “Proposals to exempt developers from having to build affordable housing on certain small sites are of huge concern.

“With rising housing waiting lists and record numbers in temporary accommodation, we desperately need to be building more affordable housing, not less.

“We need to build homes that are affordable to local people and help to reduce homelessness, rather than contributing additional funds to developers’ and landowners’ profits.

                                          © PA

“These current proposals risk allowing developers to game the system by only putting forward schemes for fewer than 40 or 50 homes, and so avoid building any affordable homes at all.”

He added: “We want to work with government on reforming the planning system, which ensures that it is improved and strengthened, delivering beautiful homes and places for communities.

“But this also needs to see the requirement for affordable housing retained as a key element, by giving councils the power to determine what is right for their local area.”

Latest figures show more than a million families are on council house waiting lists and almost 93,000 households are living in temporary accommodation, because of a lack of suitable low-cost housing.

Shadow Communities Secretary Steve Reed said: “The Government’s Developer’s Charter will lead to fewer affordable homes being built.

Steve Reed wearing a suit and tie: Shadow Communities Secretary Steve Reed

                                       © Handout Shadow Communities Secretary Steve Reed

“Our communities are desperate for affordable housing.

“If this Conservative Government was serious about tackling the housing crisis they would drop these proposals and concentrate on getting the housing we need built.”

District Councils’ Network vice-chairman Tom Beattie said: “These alarming figures expose the risk that this proposed planning reform could wipe out the building of new affordable homes in many areas.

“The planning system is not a barrier to growth.

“Districts councils continue to approve nine in 10 planning permissions and need the tools to ensure large house builders deliver the housing that already have planning permission.

“We are right behind the ambition help our local small builders build the high quality affordable homes that they want to.

“But this means supporting small builders to access the land, skills and finance.

“These proposals risk doing the opposite, reducing the scope of the local planning system to support small local builders to build affordable local homes.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokeswoman said: “These claims from the LGA are fundamentally flawed as they are based only on an 18 month support programme for small and medium-sized developers during the pandemic – their analysis is not relevant to our policies.

“Our proposals will bring in a new, simpler infrastructure levy to ensure developers pay their way and deliver at least as much, if not more, onsite affordable housing than today.

“We also recently announced details of our £11.5billion Affordable Homes Programme – the biggest investment in a decade – which will deliver up to 180,000 new affordable homes across the country.”

Source: Mirror.co.uk

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