Government U-turn on housebuilding strategy

We planners are peering curiously at government’s announcement on housing delivery and the leap from the ‘mutant algorithm’ to a ‘population-statistics led’ housebuilding revolution. The nation should also take note (but shouldn’t worry that the revolution is going to happen any time soon!).

Prior to this announcement, government’s proposed changes to the standard methodology for calculating housing growth in a local area would have seen both private market and social / affordable housing directed to where it is generally most needed. Government’s stated position yesterday, now proposes that the top 20 most populous urban centres will require a 35% increase in homes to be delivered in their areas.

The current top 20 cities/urban areas are: Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Coventry, Derby, Kingston upon Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham, Plymouth, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, and Wolverhampton.

So this now becomes a focus on urban regeneration in areas which are the most populous, but seemingly, without understanding the true ‘capacity’ or ability for a particular area to deliver the housing. On the face of it, it seems clumsy.

The approach will also require significant public sector intervention and funding. How do local authorities deliver this? As far as I can recall (and I can recall because I am old enough to remember the existence of the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation), this type of thing can only successfully be done through the ambit of national agencies (albeit some embedded locally). I see accusations arising of this moving further away from localism.

Urban regeneration is complex, costly and often contentious. The volume housebuilders look very carefully at these types of projects before they get involved and if this latest government position is to be implemented, we may yet see Robert Jenrick’s statement that ‘a standard housing development takes an average of five years to go through the planning system’ become more relevant.

Government’s position announced yesterday is not likely the best outcome for the ‘politics transcending’ housing need problem.

 

 

Prior to this announcement, government’s proposed changes to the standard methodology for calculating housing growth in a local area would have seen both private market and social / affordable housing directed to where it is generally most needed. Government’s stated position yesterday, now proposes that the top 20 most populous urban centres will require a 35% increase in homes to be delivered in their areas.

The current top 20 cities/urban areas are: Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Coventry, Derby, Kingston upon Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham, Plymouth, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, and Wolverhampton.

So this now becomes a focus on urban regeneration in areas which are the most populous, but seemingly, without understanding the true ‘capacity’ or ability for a particular area to deliver the housing. On the face of it, it seems clumsy.

The approach will also require significant public sector intervention and funding. How do local authorities deliver this? As far as I can recall (and I can recall because I am old enough to remember the existence of the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation), this type of thing can only successfully be done through the ambit of national agencies (albeit some embedded locally). I see accusations arising of this moving further away from localism.

Urban regeneration is complex, costly and often contentious. The volume housebuilders look very carefully at these types of projects before they get involved and if this latest government position is to be implemented, we may yet see Robert Jenrick’s statement that ‘a standard housing development takes an average of five years to go through the planning system’ become more relevant.

Government’s position announced yesterday is not likely the best outcome for the ‘politics transcending’ housing need problem.

 

 

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