Town and Country Planning Association (Improving the planning system)

Funding at a glance

Programme: Nurturing Ideas to Change the Housing System
Amount: £141,810 grant
Approved: 2017
Timescale: 18 months

Empowering local authorities with the capacity, skills and confidence to negotiate with housing developers to deliver more affordable housing.

Why we are funding this project

To build evidence on how the planning system currently delivers affordable housing and to use this evidence to influence changes to policy and practice. The intention is that this will lead to the increased supply of genuinely affordable homes (homes at social rent levels).

Strategic purpose

Improve understanding of which ideas have potential to create change.

Project description

This project builds on learning from a previously funded project How can councils secure the delivery of more affordable homes? New models, partnerships and innovations, which among other things, identified that there is a lack of skills, capacity and confidence among local authority planning officers and councillors to negotiate with housing developers. This results in the delivery of fewer affordable homes than these local authorities would like to achieve.

The first phase of the funded worked led to the publication of Planning for Affordable Housing, a report which revealed that the planning system is one of the main drivers for delivering affordable housing in England, with 70% of councils saying they rely on it substantially to allow them to meet housing need. The report showed that local requirements for affordable housing are usually set as a percentage of overall housing delivered on a scheme. Deprived areas are being left behind by the current system because only high-value areas can meet developers’ profit expectations and still deliver affordable homes. Figures showed that although over half of councils set a minimum threshold for genuinely affordable housing using their local plans, only 2% manage to achieve it.

As part of the research, the TCPA also evaluated cases where councils are delivering higher levels of affordable housing. This knowledge will be used to influence best practice in local authorities across England by developing guidance and training to be given to councils about how they can make the most of their planning powers to secure higher levels of affordable homes.

The project also seeks to influence policy, by using the research to influence two significant policy events:

  1. The consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework in 2018
  2. The proposed green paper from the for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on social housing.

Town and Country Planning Association

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