The government’s proposed standardised methodology for assessing housing need “does nothing” to change the way, and places where, homes are built, according to the Royal Town Planning Institute.
Housing target map
Last month LGC research revealed a stark north-south divide in government estimates of the number of new homes areas need to build each year to meet demand. While London and areas across the south and eastern parts of the country are generally expected to increase their output, conurbations in the West Midlands and across the north could be given an excuse to reduce their housebuilding ambition.
The Department for Communities & Local Government has largely based its calculations on the Office for National Statistics’ household projections for each area.
The RTPI said those projections are “too short termed and narrow” and suggested a better methodology would have taken more factors into account, including councils’ economic growth strategies, employment estimates, and more strategic concepts such as the Northern Powerhouse initiative and the industrial strategy.
In its response to the DCLG’s consultation, which closed last Thursday, the RTPI said: “The methodology does nothing to address the tendency to base housing growth on past trends, rather than on a more forward-looking strategy which takes into consideration future growth aspirations or employment projections.”
The RTPI suggested using the Scottish housing need and demand assessment tool as the basis for a different model, while it also urged the government to provide councils with more guidance about the “right mix of homes” they should be building in their areas.
Communities secretary Sajid Javid said in September that building 266,000 homes each year should be the “starting point for local plans across England” – an increase of about 10,000 on the government’s previous annual target.
Harry Burchill, RTPI policy officer, said the “unintended consequences of pursuing planning reform based solely on increasing housing numbers is very concerning”.