Letwin identifies the problem but misses the solution
Letwin identifies the problem but misses the solution

One thing that probably won’t feature in today’s post-Budget headlines is the result of the Independent Review of Build Out undertaken by Sir Oliver Letwin.

While the report might not provide headlines, it does deserve recognition because it taps into a singularly vital part of our housing crisis: the cost of land. This means Letwin joins a growing group who recognise that only by bringing land into development at lower values can we unlock better, faster, more affordable development.

This … Read more

Another step towards land market reform
Another step towards land market reform

Two weeks ago, an unlikely coalition of around 20 organisations including charities, think tanks, and trade bodies came together to sign a joint letter calling on the government to address one of the biggest issues in housing: the urgent need to reform the 1961 Land Compensation Act.

On the face of it this may seem like a pretty dry issue, but as any avid reader of this blog in recent years will know, it is one that sits at the … Read more

Viability - winning here
Viability - winning here

Last week the government (finally) published the updated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). For us, the big test for this updated document was whether it closed the viability loophole.

The result – success. As Rose has explained already on this blog the new and improved viability system meets our tests of being:

fair; limited; transparent

While there is no doubt that the planning system in England still has some way to go before we can be sure that large … Read more

Rentquake – coming to a marginal seat near you?
Rentquake – coming to a marginal seat near you?

Could private renters decide the next election?

It’s a question recently raised by new Conservative think tank Onward. It highlighted that by the time of the next election, there will be 253 constituencies where more than 20% of voters are renters. That’s an increase from just 18 at the 2001 election.

We were far from surprised by this. Our own research shows that the numbers of renters is growing – and quickly. You can see what this looks like in Read more

Low expectations and little chance of winning – private renters need more support
Low expectations and little chance of winning – private renters need more support

Renters have been through too many years of hurt, it’s time things changed. Our new research shows private renters are having to spend a massive £41bn in rents per year.

For context, this is four times the amount the government spends on affordable housing.

And (since we’re all obviously in the midst of World Cup fever) this could even buy the England squad in about a week – or the Brazil squad in a little over that if you prefer.… Read more

No, lower land prices aren’t something to worry about
No, lower land prices aren’t something to worry about

Lowering the cost of land is a holy grail in trying to fix our housing crisis. Why? Because the high land prices that we see in our current speculative development system directly lead to less affordable housing, slow build-out and poor quality.

Recently, the Sunday Telegraph covered this issue with an article about a possible land price cap being introduced in the updated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). What the Sunday Telegraph talks about isn’t a land price cap as … Read more

Time to build on cross party support to end viability loophole and make housebuilding popular again

We’ve been talking about the viability loophole for a while now, but our new research has shone a light on just how much of a problem it is. Last week, we revealed England is losing thousands of potential affordable homes each year through this loophole in the planning rules.

Happily, both major political parties are already committed to ending the use and abuse of this loophole.

Shelter isn’t alone on this. Local councils and communities across the country are … Read more

Hundreds of affordable homes have been lost in Kensington and Chelsea: it’s time to shut the door on abuse of the viability process

Following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower the challenge of finding new homes for survivors has been thrown into the spotlight. A challenge that is exacerbated by the simple fact that in Kensington and Chelsea, as in areas across the country, there exists a huge shortage of affordable homes.

One reason for this is something regular readers of our blog will recognise: viability assessments.

Today we’ve released some new stats showing just how startling the problem in Kensington and Chelsea actually … Read more

A consensus is emerging on land value capture: What we need now is political action

£87 billion could be unlocked for infrastructure and housebuilding. That’s the core of an article in yesterday’s Financial Times (FT) calling for major reforms to the land market – reforms we at Shelter have long been calling for.

This number is also of no surprise to us because we know that land value capture offers huge potential for unlocking investment. Indeed, we’ve worked closely with the Centre for Progressive Capitalism, which identified that number, to make sure we get it … Read more

The Mayor is giving us a new window into viability but we still need action at all levels

Last week, through the case of Hornsey Town Hall, we highlighted once again how a lack of transparency for viability assessments is contributing to the loss of affordable homes across England.

In London, however, the Mayor is listening and progress is being made in the form of a new piece of supplementary planning guidance (SPG).

This guidance – Homes for Londoners Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Planning Guidance 2017 – seeks to increase transparency around viability and increase the … Read more

Viability and transparency – unless we [REDACTED] how can we expect [REDACTED] to trust [REDACTED]

Regular readers of our blog – or followers of our work on housing supply – will have repeatedly heard our calls for increased transparency within housebuilding. One particular area where this is vital is when it comes to the murky world of viability assessments.

These assessments are used to reduce the affordable housing provision and other community contributions that a developer has to make on a scheme.

Recently we saw (and wrote about) a particularly egregious example of this in … Read more

Phantom Homes – where are the homes we need going?

It’s now an accepted fact that our housebuilding market is broken. It quite simply isn’t working for ordinary people, and this is clearest in it’s failure to build homes to the scale that we currently need.

Often we hear major developers saying that a key reason behind this is that the planning system is too complicated, too convoluted, and just not fit for purpose. This also offers a simple answer – if the planning system is broken then we need … Read more