New research reveals local councillors think housing crisis is getting worse

  • 61% believe housing crisis is getting worse
  • 51% blame slow build out rate by developers
  • Providing affordable homes the top priority
  • 60% believe viability assessments being used by developers to avoid planning obligations
  • 43% agree that Green Belt should be reviewed

Newgate Communications’ Planning Committee Barometer reveals local councillors’ views on planning issues with housing delivery high up the agenda. 61% think that the housing crisis is getting worse with only 8% believing it is improving.

The responsibility for the ongoing crisis is being firmly placed at the door of developers with over half of respondents stating that slow build out rates are to blame and only 18% pointing to community opposition as the cause. Over 60% felt that developers were responsible for delivering against housing targets in Local Plans.

Providing affordable homes for future generations was the top concern for over two-thirds of councillors, with preserving the Green Belt a priority for only 18%. When asked how affordability could be improved nearly 70% felt that more affordable homes needed to be delivered, with 45% stating that more homes needed to be built in general. Only 3% said affordability was not an issue in their local authority area.

Many councillors felt that the viability assessment system is being abused with 60% believing that they are used by developers to avoid planning obligations.

Rebecca Eatwell, Managing Partner at Newgate Communications, said:

“Local councillors clearly think that the housing crisis is getting worse and there was a general feeling in the research that developers are a big part of the problem. I think this reflects a wider reputational issue facing the industry at present. With the Government targeting developers with claims of landbanking and fingers being pointed around the lack of affordable housing you can see why.

“Yet we work with many housebuilders and developers that are genuinely trying to create sustainable communities that deliver inclusive growth. The contribution that the housing sector makes to both local communities and the national economy is often overlooked. I’d argue it’s time to stop apportioning blame and for local councillors to work with developers to tackle the issue together.”

In a disappointing result for developers keen to engage, the research also revealed that only 14% of local authorities actively encourage conversations between committee members and developers on planning applications. 20% reported being actively discouraged to engage with developers. This will no doubt be a source of frustration for many developers who want to ensure their schemes meet local needs and aspirations.

Perhaps surprisingly, when it came to the Green Belt 43% of councillors said they would support a review in their local authority if it provided land for housing (45% said they wouldn’t).

Rebecca Eatwell, went on to say:

“We were quite surprised how many councillors were open to reviewing the Green Belt given this isn’t something you’d often find a politician admitting! As some of the councillors we surveyed said, while there is some Green Belt that is sacrosanct there’s also plenty that’s low value. It’s definitely true that not all Green Belt was created equal and I think we’re long overdue a rational debate about it.”

Notes to editors

  • The Planning Barometer takes its results from a poll issued to 5,500 members of planning committees across England. This year, 670 councillors responded.
  • Full results are available on request.




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