Memorandum by Town & Country Planning
Association (TCPA) (HOU 40)
1.1 In 2001 the Town & Country Planning
Association (TCPA) published Housing Demand and Need in England
1996 to 2016,
which updated the Government's latest projections (based on 1996
data) with projections based on 1998 population dataprojections
which have not yet been updated by the ODPM. The TCPA was delighted
that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation subsequently took up many
of the elements of this work in their milestone report Land for
and that the Urban Affairs Committee has seen fit to investigate
this issue. The TCPA welcomes the opportunity to contribute to
1.2 The TCPA campaigns inter alia for
the reform of the UK planning system to promote public participation
and sustainable development and for environment and development
policies which improve the living and working conditions of everyone.
Amongst the TCPA's objectives is "a decent home in a good
environment for everyone who needs it". The Association believes
the UK is a long way from achieving this aim.
1.3 In addition to the publication of the
Housing Demand and Need report, the TCPA also carried out the
recently published study for the then DETR, The Delivery of Affordable
Housing Through Planning Policy,
with Entec, Nottingham Trent University and Three Dragons Consultancy.
2. WHETHER THE
2.1 The level of funding for social housing
has been increased in recent years by the present Government,
however the TCPA believes that the scale of the increase is insufficient
to address the scale of the need. In 1990 the overall level of
funding for affordable housing was £11 billion whereas the
Comprehensive Spending Review 2002 agreed to increase funding
only to £5 billion. As a result the nation builds approximately
one fifth the number of affordable houses per year now that it
did 10 years ago.
2.2 The level of underprovision of affordable
housing was calculated for a TCPA publication at approximately
60,000 units per year by Dr Alan Holmans (See endnote 24). If
the increase in funding levels yields increases in social housing
units of a similar proportion a further 8,000 to 9,000 units might
be secured (in addition to the 33,000 per year currently being
completed) making little impact on the scale of need.
2.3 The TCPA therefore supports several
measures to increase the supply of affordable housing:
additional funding to restore social
housing provision to the 1990 level;
restrictions placed on the right
to buy particularly to ensure that a proportion of the small amount
of newly built council housing will remain in public ownership
in perpetuity. The right to buy for existing stock should also
comprehensive major developments
led by accountable public sector agencies tasked with the delivery
of major new communities including significant concentrations
of new housing;
selective acquisition of land by
public bodies as part of a strategy to bring forward comprehensive
developments (while recognising that private and social housing
providers will need to deliver the bulk of the requirement); and
a national planning framework with
attention focusing on major transport links and other measures
to address the regional imbalance in housing supply.
3. HOW SPENDING
3.1 Both housing associations and private
sector house builders are interested in providing "intermediate
market housing" particularly for key public sector workers.
Public funding should be available for these types of initiatives
as well as for low cost home ownership. There should however be
proper safeguards to ensure that either properties remain "affordable"
in perpetuity or that any funds generated from their resale are
channelled back into additional affordable housing provision.
Subsidising market housing is not advocated by the TCPA.
3.2 Social housing providers, rather than
the TCPA are better placed to advise on policy on funding distribution
across different housing tenures.
4. THE ROLE
4.1 New privately constructed housing as
a whole accounts for only one eleventh of all available housing,
thus any proportion of this which is secured as affordable housing
(through planning obligations) is likely to be small beer compared
to the scale of need. Indeed the Joseph Rowntree Foundation believes
that a maximum of 15,000 units can be provided this way and recognises
that such a figure is likely to be an overestimate since many
houses provided through planning gain have already been counted
as a contribution to affordable housing need when they received
Housing Support Grant.
4.2 The TCPA/Entec study (See endnote 25)
investigated "The Delivery of Affordable Housing through
Planning Policy" for the Department of the Environment, Transport
and the Regions. The TCPA supports the conclusions and recommendations
reached as follows:
The definition of affordable made
by local authorities was not consistent with a tendency, particularly
in the south, not to consider the full range of alternatives to
social rented housing. Therefore a clearer definition is needed.
Local authorities are not following
Government advice on Housing Needs Assessments.
There is pressure to reduce the threshold
(on the size of development) at which the inclusion of an element
of affordable housing is required, but conversely many rural authorities
are reluctant to do so.
The Section 106 (planning gain) agreement
process needs to be clearer with draft agreements being put to
Planning Committees at the time of granting planning permission.
Better understanding of development
economics is needed within planning authorities.
That authorities can provide a list
of Registered Social Landlords, with whom they work, to developers
but that deadlocks that frustrate development must be avoided.
Commuted payments to local authorities
by developers in lieu of providing affordable housing on site
should equate with the cost of actual provision and sanctions
should exist for repayment should the sums not be used appropriately.
There is a need for better collaborative
working between housing and planning departments.
5. THE EFFECTIVENESS
5.1 The housing market renewal fund is a
welcome initiative to address the problems of low demand, however
small scale investment in geographically confined areas is unlikely
to reverse market trends across whole towns and communities. In
concert with measures to invest in improving/replacing existing
stock, the TCPA believes that the release of more attractive sites
for housing development (often on the edge of towns) will be needed
to assist the process. Newcastle City Council has effectively
linked new development towards the outskirts of the town to its
city centre regeneration strategy in this way.
6. HOW THE
6.1 The qualities of most concern to ordinary
people in their homes include the provision of a garden, decent
room and space standards, low maintenance and attractive design.
The TCPA also believes that the environmental sustainability of
new homes is crucial and has established a sustainable housing
Forum to raise standards in this area. In particular, new housing
should all be constructed to the best practice standards of insulation
and energy efficiency, but in addition future use of concepts
such as solar rights for householders should be considered. New
housing and other development should also be constructed as part
of wider strategy across local authority areas to reduce carbon
dioxide emissions within relevant carbon envelopes. The TCPA also
believes in the return of statutory minimum standards for open
spaces and room sizes and deplores the fact that there is no legal
minimum size for a habitable room such as a bedroom. Improvements
in visual design quality will require better training and expertise
in local authority planning departments.
23 Holmans, A (2001) Housing Demand and Need in England
1996-2016, TCPA & NHF. Back
Barlow J, et al (2002) Land for Housing: Current Practice and
Future Options: JRF. Back
DETR (2001) The Delivery of Affordable Housing Through Planning
Policy: Entec, Nottingham Trent University, TCPA, Three Dragons. Back