The cap is scrapped! Where next for council housebuilding?
The cap is scrapped! Where next for council housebuilding?

Last year, Theresa May used her speech at Conservative Party Conference to announce £2bn of new grant funding – the first money made available for building social homes since 2010.

Two weeks ago, the prime minister used a speech at the National Housing Federation’s annual summit to announce another £2bn of long-term funding for housing associations. At the time, we asked ‘Is Theresa May getting serious about social housing?’, taking stock of the many small actions May’s governments … Read more

Is the tide turning for social housing?
Is the tide turning for social housing?

Theresa May has often said fixing the housing crisis is her top domestic priority – no small feat for a government also tasked with delivering Brexit on a razor-thin majority. Some governments might have been tempted to leave housing in the ‘too difficult’ box, where it has been gathering dust for years.

But while we have yet to see the fundamental reforms and significant uptick in investment needed to get the country building genuinely affordable homes at scale again, May’s … Read more

An unlikely coalition for land reform
An unlikely coalition for land reform

What do Shelter, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the National Landlords Association, the New Economics Foundation and centre-right think tank Onward all agree on? Not much, admittedly. The world is round. Homelessness is bad. And we must fix the UK’s broken land laws to get a grip on the housing crisis.

Yesterday, this unlikely coalition published an open letter to James Brokenshire, the housing secretary. In it, we state a simple truth: ‘The root of England’s housing crisis lies … Read more

We closed the viability loophole
We closed the viability loophole

New planning rules released yesterday signal the beginning of the end for the viability loophole. Developers will now find it harder to get out of building the affordable homes we desperately need. We explain how.

Over the last year, we’ve been raising a racket about viability assessments. Since 2012, the viability system has allowed big developers to shirk their affordable housing obligations if they can show that building low-cost homes on a scheme will threaten their ability to make … Read more

The roots of the rural housing crisis
The roots of the rural housing crisis

Have you heard about the housing crisis hollowing out the countryside? This week, for once, the answer to that question might just be “yes”. The National Housing Federation’s Rural Housing Week has shone a light on a problem that is poorly understood and rarely discussed with anything like the urgency it deserves.

A vicious chain reaction

In many rural communities, the market for housing has become divorced from local people and their incomes. Homes are sold for as much as … Read more

Why town planners need to be more like Michelangelo
Why town planners need to be more like Michelangelo

A new report from the Raynsford Review explains why the planning system has worsened over the past hundred years and that, to fix it, we need to start talking about homes and not units again.

Planning is not boring, honestly. It’s critically important. It’s not about S106 and CIL, but rather affordable housing, and how communities function. And it’s at a crossroads right now, as the government is currently reviewing national planning laws.

It’s therefore timely that a new report Read more

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

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