The number of affordable homes built in England in 2015-16 fell to its lowest level for 24 years, new data shows. There were 32,110 built, compared to 66,600 in the previous year, according to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
This issue was highlighted, or should we say “low-lighted”, in Castle Point when the developers at the lucrative Kiln Road housing site were granted permission by the local authority to renege on the agreed delivery of affordable housing – claiming the level of delivery was unviable!
Further local housing problems will emerge with the slow reduction in local authority owned properties transferring into private ownership.
Castle Point Council explain that; “Most Council tenants are able to apply to purchase the property in which they live at a discounted price, this is called the “Right to Buy”. If you are eligible to buy your home the level of discount you will receive will depend on your “qualifying period”, but the maximum discount you can receive is set annually at a nationally level. For 2014/2015 this is £77,000.”
Whilst we await the neighbouring local authorities responses to CPBC Local Plan Examination Inspector’s enquiry as to the levels of cooperation with castle point council in the plan-making process the pressure to develop mounts.
It appears the problem will attempt to be handled by increasing urban densities and the releasing of open green space.
The distribution of employment and development across the UK and the control of population growth appears not to be an attainable answer.
“It is projected that the number of households in the UK will reach 32.5 million by 2036, an increase of 4.8 million (17.2%) from 2016.13 As figure 3 illustrates, this household increase is hugely variable by region across the country. It is even more varied by district. For instance in Tower Hamlets the number of households is projected to increase by 51.8% between 2016 and 2036 compared to Barrow-in-Furness where the number of households is expected to decrease by 4.9% over the same period.
Local authorities often face different challenges when providing viable and appropriate land for development. In Sevenoaks, for example, 93% of land is classified as green belt which heavily restricts opportunities for development in the local area. Similarly in areas such as Oxford and Cambridge development is restricted by local authority boundaries. Although there is a need and ambition to build new housing, central measures aimed at driving new housebuilding are often irrelevant in these areas as there simply isn’t enough viable land to build on. Councils are often left with available plots that are too small to attract a larger developer’s investment. These smaller plots could potentially be used to bring smaller and more innovative developers in to local authority areas or even be used by the council themselves to build more homes. Land supply is, of course, one variable in the housebuilding process.
But housing markets do not begin and end where one local authority meets another, so a more strategic view is needed.”