No evidence that scrapping housing targets will boost housebuilding, MPs warn

Posted on Friday, July 14, 2023

MPs have cast doubt on the Government’s ability to achieve its target of 300,000 new homes per year by the mid-2020s in England without mandatory local housing targets.

A report from the cross-party Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee, published today, finds that the Government has not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate how the policy of scrapping mandatory local housing targets will directly lead to more housebuilding.

While the Government is on track to deliver 1m new homes over the course of this Parliament,  the report said, it is not forecast to deliver 300,000 net new homes per year by the mid-2020s.

The LUHC Committee’s Reforms to national planning policy report is critical of the “stop-start reform” on national planning policy over several years, which it says has caused uncertainty for local authorities and planners, delayed local plans, and slowed new house building.

The report calls on the Government to give greater importance in planning to affordable housing and homes for social rent, which it said should have a target of 90,000 per year.

It highlights the significant resource challenges faced by local council planning departments and criticises the Government’s failure to set out a comprehensive resources and skills strategy for the planning sector.

The standard method of calculating housing need is not fit for purpose, the report finds, highlighting that it is based on 2014-based housing projections, focusses on housebuilding in areas where economic activity is already high and that it includes an arbitrary 35% uplift for urban centres.

The Committee calls on the Government to adopt a revised standard method which take accounts of future local need, encourages regeneration across the country, and applies fairly to all local authorities.

Clive Betts, chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee, said: “We have a national shortage of housing in England and there’s evidence the Government’s latest shake-up of planning rules is already having a damaging impact on efforts to increase the building of new homes.

“People are facing rising housing costs. Housing affordability is a major issue. For our economy and for communities across the country, it’s crucial the Government takes urgent action to encourage the building of more homes. Without urgent action, the Government will fail achieve its national housing target of building 300,000 net new homes per year by the mid-2020s.

“Planning consultants say annual housebuilding will go down to around 150,000 a year under the Government’s proposed policy reforms. The prospect of a major hit to the building of new homes resulting from the Government’s planning rule changes is deeply concerning, especially for people wanting to get on the housing ladder, families eager to move home, and communities crying out for affordable places to live.”

Via @EstateAgentToday