28 February 2019

A quarter of south west councils are failing to tackle the housing crisis

The Government has released its housing delivery test results, showing that a third of local authorities across the country are failing to address the housing crisis.

The results show that 108 local authorities delivered less than 95% of the homes their local community needs, with 21 being required to publish action plans explaining why they missed their targets and what action they will take.

The remaining 87, who delivered between 35% and 85% of their housing need, will be required to add 20% more homes to their five year land supply.

No area delivered less than 25% of their housing need, which means that no council will face the penalty of ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’. However, the presumption penalty threshold will increase to 45% in November 2019 and to 65% in November 2020.

If the Government had not extended the deadline to meet the 65% threshold until 2020, 32 local authorities would have been subject to the penalty.

In the south west, a quarter of local authorities failed to deliver enough homes, with six being subject to a 20% buffer, requiring them to add 20% more homes to their five year land supply.

No local authority delivered less than 65% of their housing need, however, West Devon, Poole and North Somerset came close, delivering 69%, 68% and 73% respectively.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) understands the challenges local authorities face in meeting housing demand, but remains concerned that so many councils are missing their targets leaving us a shortfall of more than 220,000 new homes.

As local developers, NFB members would have liked to see local authorities in control of their own housing destiny. However, given their frequent failures to meet housing demand and accurately assess housing need, we welcome the blunt instrument that the Government is wielding. Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said:

“Since the carrot of meeting housing need themselves is not enticing enough for local planners, the Government’s stick of penalties and buffers is clearly required. We have a housing crisis and the Government is taking appropriate steps to fix it.”

Joe Cook, managing director of D.A. Cook (Builders) Ltd and south west chair of the NFB, said:

“There’s enough land to meet housing need and we must support our communities to deliver it. However, we need to be strategic and build in our existing communities first, rather than putting 2,000 homes on the edge of a town, simply to meet a regional target.”