The government has an ambitious target of delivering 300,000 new homes per year by the mid-2020s, but inherent problems at the heart of the housing planning system are likely to jeopardise this target. If the Government delivers 300,000 new homes per year, this would be a significant increase in the rate of house building, with the number built a year averaging only 177,000 in the period 2005–06 to 2017–18. While the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (the Department) has made some recent reforms to the planning system, much more needs to be done and it still does not have a detailed implementation plan for how it will scale-up house building.
The Department stresses that it wants a ‘plan-led system’, with local authorities determining the shape of development in their areas through their own local plans. We welcome this outlook, which has the potential to engender a housing system which is both efficient and able to be tailored to local communities. But local authorities are struggling to produce local plans showing how many, where and what types of new homes are needed in their areas, and fewer than half of authorities have an up-to-date local plan, and the Department is reluctant to take decisive action. New housing developments also need supporting infrastructure in place and the Department estimates that £12 billion a year towards the cost of this infrastructure should come from public sources. The rest must come from developers, but local authorities find it difficult to navigate complex negotiations with developers who are too often able to negotiate lower contributions to infrastructure.
Published: 26 June 2019