Following the statement from the Chair of the Committee on the Committee’s report into the future of the planning system in England, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown asks about addressing the affordability ratio and housing mix.
I congratulate the Chairman and his Committee on producing a very comprehensive and constructive report on this all-encompassing subject. In the report, he says:
“We think the Government’s abandonment of its proposed formula for determining housing need is the correct decision.”
For many areas, such as the Cotswolds, the formula would have produced a staggering 144% increase in housing numbers, but it would not have addressed the affordability ratio. Can he suggest what his Committee’s recommendations to the Government would be on a revised approach, and, importantly, whether affordability and housing mix—the need for smaller properties or flats for first-time buyers and elderly people who are downsizing—should be considered?
The housing needs formula is a desperately difficult one. and the Government have a difficult job. It is right that we should try to have a housing needs formula, because it can reduce the amount of time taken up with planning inquiries in the local plan. They nearly always devolve down to long arguments about housing numbers, which is not really helpful. If local areas have particular problems they should highlight them, because a one-size-fits-all needs assessment does not necessarily meet the requirements of every individual authority.
On the particulars on the sort of housing, local councils ought to be given an opportunity to be more granular in their approach. Indeed, we made a specific recommendation in a previous report that every local plan should not just have an assessment of housing numbers but, particularly in relation to elderly people’s housing, how many of those units should be built and where they should be built to ensure provision for elderly people going forward.
The full report: