25 July, 2011

The draft National Planning and Policy Framework document published today is the basis for a more pro growth planning system and could support a desperately needed increase in house building.

But, its success is dependant upon both its interpretation by local authorities and how central Government ensures the planning system does actually deliver more homes.

How Local Authorities interpret the definition for ‘sustainable development’ will be vital. The economic and social benefits of housing provision simply must be prioritised and Local Authorities need to find ways of accommodating them – consistent with the environmental considerations.

The government must evaluate what happens in practice to ensure local authorities use the NPPF to facilitate increased housing provision. Local authorities cannot be allowed to use any ambiguity in the document to delay house building and enforcement by central Government must be swift if we are to address the nation’s chronic housing shortage.

It is also positive that the draft version addresses the question of development viability. However by stating that the cumulative impact of policies must not put delivery of the local plan at a level of ‘serious risk’, there is a threat that some local authorities will continue to set polices and standards which threaten development viability and housing delivery by considering such risk as less than “serious”.

Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman at HBF said today:

“The emphasis in the NPPF on achieving an improved housing supply is positive. But the how Local Authorities implement the policy remains critical and will require a change of culture across the board if it is to be transformational. The nation’s housing shortage dictates that If Local Authorities are not implementing this document properly, central Government will have to strengthen the guidance ever further. This is the most important planning document since the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 – it is vital we get it right.”

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Notes to Editors:

1. The Home Builders Federation (HBF) is the representative body of the home building industry in England and Wales. The HBF’s 300 member firms account for some 80% of all new homes built in England and Wales in any one year, and include companies of all sizes, ranging from multi-national, household names through regionally based businesses to small local companies:

Useful stats

Permissions for fewer than 34,000 new homes were approved in Q1 in England, compared with 40,000 in Q1 2010 and against a quarterly housing requirement of nearly 60,000 based on the Government’s household projections. In Q1 2006 over 60,000 permissions were granted by local authorities 1.8 million families (5 million people) are currently on Local Authority waiting lists in England. FTBs aged between 22 and 29 have to save 45% of their take home pay every month for five years to afford a deposit The number of households is projected to grow from 21.7m in 2008 to 27.5m in 2033, a rise of 5.8m (27%), or 232,000 per year. (DCLG Household Formation Projections.) Jobs Calculator: Each home built creates 1.5 full-time jobs -Michael Ball report Increasing house-building by 130,000 units per year (to Government household projection levels) would create 195,000 jobs. HBF estimates twice that number of jobs are created in the supply chain – close to 400,000 jobs. Over the last three years, home builders have invested almost £1billion in shared equity schemes to help maintain housing construction whilst helping close to 30,000 first time buyers get a foot on the ladder. HBF’s  Housing Market Report (May’11) shows that 91% of house builders now see the lack of mortgage availability as a ‘major constraint;’ on their ability to sell, and thus build, homes According to Government figures, even in its current crisis state, housing supply accounts for around 3% of UK GDP and provides between 1 and 1.25 million jobs in the UK. In February, Local Authorities learnt for the first time how much they will receive from developing. Some will gain over £4M in New Homes Bonus whilst others will receive nothing. The figures also show that some Local Authorities will in future be missing out on up to £27M a year by scrapping previous plans for homes or not building enough to meet the needs of their communities. The number of new homes completed in England in 2010 slumped 13% on the previous year – itself the lowest peacetime number on record since 1923. 18% of females and 29% males aged 20-34 still live with parents – ONS social trends Or; Over 1 million women and 1.7 million men aged between 20 and 34 are still living at home The average age of a first time buyer (FTB) purchasing a home without financial assistance is now 37. (CML the original source of this have backtracked somewhat on it, but everyone, including Shapps now take it as read. However, may be best to avoid as gives ammunition to people if we quoting incorrect stats.) Whilst over 80% of people believe Britain needs more homes, particularly for first time buyers, only 50% of people would welcome more homes in their area - NHMB survey, Nov 2010.