Exception sites are a lifeline for communities in need of affordable homes
Exception sites are a lifeline for communities in need of affordable homes

Here at Shelter, we’re all for getting more affordable homes built. It’s the only long-term, permanent fix to our housing and homelessness crisis. But in recent years, it hasn’t always felt like the planning system is on our side. Rules like the viability loophole have made it harder to get the affordable homes communities really need coming through the planning system. But there is one great, unsung hero of the planning system that has been steadily chipping away at the … Read more

New viability rules: fair, limited, transparent?
New viability rules: fair, limited, transparent?

On Monday, Theresa May’s government announced a shake-up of planning rules, including a new version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The aim is to get more homes built, as pretty much everyone now accepts that this is the best way to tackle the housing crisis.

Over the coming weeks, we will go through all these proposed planning changes with a fine-toothed comb to work out just what they mean for the supply of genuinely affordable homes. But for … Read more

Villages are unviable without affordable homes
Villages are unviable without affordable homes

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is known for sticking up for the countryside and rural communities, while Shelter is known for campaigning to end bad housing and homelessness. These are not two charities you might automatically pair together. However, both organisations have a long history of campaigning to ensure that the needs of communities are met, first and foremost, when housing developments are planned and delivered – countrywide, in Shelter’s case, and in rural areas, in CPRE’s. And … Read more

Local viability policy part 2: What should councils be doing about the viability loophole?

Part one of this blog looked at the councils getting tough on viability assessments. Faced with acute shortages of affordable housing, councils like Bristol City are pulling out all the stops to strengthen their position in Section 106 negotiations with developers. But the development of local policy to limit the damage being done by viability assessments is still in its early stages. Urban councils in areas of high housing demand in the south of England have been much more likely … Read more

Local viability policy part 1: ‘We are pushing the system as hard as we can, but it’s a rigged system.’

Those are the words of Bristol City Council’s cabinet member for housing, Paul Smith, describing his city’s battle against the viability loophole. In 2017, we showed how viability assessments are depriving local communities of the homes they need – with 2,500 affordable homes lost in just one year across just eleven councils.

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Since then, the idea that developers need to cut affordable homes from schemes to make them profitable has become even less credible. The top developers … Read more

London’s missing homes: why can’t we turn planning permissions into houses?

Yesterday, London First released the latest round of their analysis of planning and housebuilding in London. The headline is stark – almost one in two planning permissions in London aren’t turning into actual homes.

The scale of the problem

A total of 54,941 new homes received planning permission in London during 2014. Planning permissions generally last three years before they expire – so we would expect these to have been built or at least started by the end of 2017. … Read more

A fork in the road: the Letwin review

In the pantheon of sexy retail offers, the promise of an internal government review does not, you might argue, necessarily set the pulse racing. So when a review of land banking was announced in the Autumn Budget, it wasn’t rewarded with huge media attention. Some world-weary cynics (not me, you understand) even wondered if it was just a way to kick the issue into the long grass.

But there’s every reason to pay attention to the review (which will … Read more

The high cost of viability assessments: 2,500 affordable homes lost in just one year

Over the last year, we’ve blogged many times about viability assessments, their role in cutting affordable homes, and the lack of transparency around how developers use them.

New research from Shelter shines a light on just how much damage this legal loophole is doing. Eleven councils covering nine English cities lost 2,500 affordable homes in just one year on schemes where developers used viability assessments. That’s equivalent to a 79% cut in desperately needed affordable homes to … Read more

Why are Grenfell survivors still living in hotels? The curious case of 100 West Cromwell Road

It’s now more than two months on from the Grenfell Tower fire, and many of those who survived this terrible event are still living in hotels, traumatised and without the basic comforts of home. Many survivors need time to grieve and recover before they can start to think about a permanent new place to live. But there’s no doubt that Kensington and Chelsea Council’s progress on identifying suitable accommodation, both temporary and permanent, has been far too slow for survivors.… Read more

Why should the Government improve land market transparency?

The lack of transparency in the land market is a serious barrier to building more homes in England. Shelter is calling on the Government to open up all land data held by the public sector, to let innovation flourish, allow the market to work more efficiently, and get more homes built.

All markets need good quality information to work efficiently. Without this, buyers don’t know what to bid for goods or services, and sellers don’t know what to ask. Poor … Read more

Starter Homes: an opportunity missed

Yesterday the Prime Minister went to Poole to launch a new starter homes scheme that will deliver 100,000 homes for purchase by first time buyers at 20% below the market value. Beneath this simple consumer-friendly message there is a complex scheme involving several different interventions and changes. In short, it’s half right – and half wrong.

On the positive side, the scheme is a very welcome sign that the government recognises the urgent need to build more homes, and to … Read more

One North …. Plus?

On Tuesday something strange happened. Everyone in politics agreed on something.

One North – a collection of five cities working together – put forward an ambitious proposal on how to improve transport connectivity, dubbed the “Crossrail of the North”.

George Osborne pledged support, stating he’d make the plans the centrepiece of his Autumn Statement. And Ed Balls welcomed the proposals too.

However, before everyone runs away with themselves I want to offer an amendment, an addition to the plans. Let’s … Read more