‘Severe shortage’ of affordable homes

Staff reporter

Staff reporter

‘Severe shortage’ of affordable homes

Lack of investment in genuine affordable housing alongside deregulation of planning is reducing local authorities’ ability to secure the homes the nation needs, with nearly two-thirds of 141 councils identifying a ‘severe’ shortage of affordable housing.

The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) report shines a stark spotlight on the desperate housing crisis experienced across the country, with 98 per cent of councils identifying their need for affordable housing as either severe or moderate.

Over two thirds of councils in England state that statutory homelessness levels have increased in their local area in the past 12 months and 57 per cent state that rough sleeping has also increased during this period.

To create more homes the Government has deregulated planning by introducing measures to convert commercial buildings into homes through permitted development (this requires a prior approval process but removes the need for the developers to make a full planning application to the local authority).

While permitted development has created more housing units, the research reveals that this is not enabling councils to secure much needed affordable housing, nor is it helping them deal with the rising tide of homelessness.

Kate Henderson, from the Town and Country Planning Association which researched the report, said: “We are not providing anywhere near enough genuinely affordable homes and homelessness is rising.

“Our research highlights that councils want to provide more affordable housing for their local communities, but their ability to do so is being undermined by planning deregulation.

“Relaxing permitted development has led to tens of thousands of new homes being created without having to get full planning permission – for example through the conversion of commercial buildings into homes – and this means that councils are unable to secure a contribution to affordable housing from the developer, and little or no thought is given to the most basic issues, such as where children can play or whether there are enough doctors’ surgeries.

“We are calling on the Government to reverse the central imposition of permitted development and give powers back to local authorities to reflect local circumstances.”

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