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Set up to fail: why housing targets based on flaw numbers threaten our countryside

Set up to fail: why housing targets based on flawed numbers threaten our countryside Set up to fail: why housing targets based on flawed numbers threaten our countryside CPRE

Research by CPRE shows how housing development is being built in the wrong places, and countryside is being lost unnecessarily.

CPRE Hampshire's Planning and Policy Group is keen to draw your attention to the findings from 'Set up to fail: why housing targets based on flawed numbers threaten our countryside'. The report can be found on the CPRE website (* see link below).


CPRE knows we need to build more homes. However, there is no clear Government guidance to calculating Objectively Assessed Need in Local Plans, and Strategic Housing Market Assessments are expected to take account of projected job growth. National guidance asks local authorities to base their housing targets on aspiration rather than need. Need and demand are often treated as synonymous. "Constraints", such as national parks, although allowed to be taken into account are often ignored by Local Plan Inspectors. Yet as we see in South Hampshire, more housing has not in fact improved economic performance.

CPRE Cornwall commissioned an independent survey which found a real need for 30,000 additional dwellings when 50,000 are being planned. 
So, housing targets in Local Plans are often arbitrary and inflated. The result is five-year supply targets which the construction industry has neither the will nor the capacity to build out, and has never achieved in recent times.

In fact, Local Plan housing requirements are 50% above the average build rate taken over the last 50 years. Building rates have been static at 136,000 pa since the beginning of 2014, while more and more consents are given, some of which are just added to land banks for trading.

If five-year housing targets are not met, then planning authorities are required to release more land to meet their inflated and unrealistic targets. So, more land is released than would have been needed to meet a realistic housing demand, and countryside is unnecessarily lost. Yet no more houses are actually built. 
At the same time, developers are able to pick the most profitable sites, which are usually greenfield sites in locations which would not have been the choice of the local planning authority or residents for siting of new housing. So, new housing ends up in the wrong place.

CPRE recommendations

CPRE recommends that local authorities should only be required to plan for the number of homes that genuinely are needed. They may plan for more to meet aspirations if they wish but it needs to be made clear that this is a local choice. Also local authorities need to use their evidence of genuine actual housing need and actual building rates to explain why high housing targets are not sustainable.

Otherwise, we are likely to see ever greater loss of our precious countryside.

June 2016   

* Link to Set up to fail report http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/housing-and-planning/housing/item/4158-set-up-to-fail-why-housing-targets-based-on-flawed-numbers-threaten-our-countryside

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