Tuesday, 12 February 2013
The housing conundrum
Andy Ward submitted a comment in response to my post on "Permitted development - office to residential". It goes well beyond the subject-matter of my original post, but nevertheless deserves an airing, and so I have decided to give it a post of its own.
Andy Ward writes: We know this idea of a change of use as Permitted Development from B1(a) to C3 has been kicking around since just after the election, but this still smacks of something thought about over a couple of pints and a bag of crisps last weekend; but something as important as supplying enough homes of the types people want and need requires more than this.
It's yet another sticking plaster solution to the chronic undersupply of housing in this country. New Homes Bonus has been a joke for a start - I'd love to see a statistic for how much of the money handed out under that scheme relates to dwellings approved before the New Homes Bonus came into effect or, for that matter, some statistics to see how New Homes Bonus relates (or doesn't) to any change in the housing supply figures in individual LPA areas. (Lots of LPAs I deal with - if not most - steadfastly refuse to take account of New Homes Bonus in their decision making!)
Slightly changing the subject, one league table I'd like to see is one for housing supply, since the majority of LPAs I come across don't have 5 years, and so many still seem to have trouble getting the calculation right. There are also plenty who still see a 5.1 year supply as an oversupply that must be corrected.
Let's also not forget the proportion of current supply being delivered as affordable housing - a successful overall housing supply would see the need for and supply of affordable housing diminishing, not growing.
Then there's the steadily increasing proportion of rented properties in the market. Yes, we need more rented properties per se, to increase choice and flexibility, but it remains the case that most people want to own their own home. (I don't hold much truck with those who say home ownership is a luxury and should not be pandered to, that rent is the way forward - let all those who think that be the first to give up their homes and rent for the rest of their lives.)
Sadly, I see no change for the next 5-10 years because the problem of anti-development sentiment is endemic and the politicians either refuse to recognise it or are afraid to deal with it. Hence, an undersupply of hundreds of thousands of houses is being tackled by trying to add a few thousand flats as a result of office conversions in the next 3 years.
[I see exactly what Andy means. However, so far as housing supply is concerned, the full force of the NPPF will be felt by LPAs from the end of next month, and those unable to demonstrate a 5-year (+) supply of housing land are going to lose appeals on unallocated sites. In fact, where an LPA has a record of under-delivery, they will be required to have not simply a 5% margin but a 20% margin (in effect a 6-year supply). Some inspectors are applying a robust approach to this issue when judging the soundness of Core Strategies, and LPAs who find themselves in this position may not be able to prevent the housing development they have been seeking to resist. - MHG]