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

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

33,000 people had their say on social housing. Sixteen will ensure they're heard. One of them shares his view on how.
33,000 people had their say on social housing. Sixteen will ensure they're heard. One of them shares his view on how.

Guest blog by Rob Gershon 

I’ve just got home from the third meeting of the Shelter commission on the future of social housing, and I’m trying to sift through the information we’ve discussed today and my thoughts and feelings about it, so that I can try and summarise where the commission has come from, where it is, and where it might be going.

This isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. From the outset, the commission’s meetings haven’t been minuted … 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 we need a bold new plan for social housing
Why we need a bold new plan for social housing

We’re just a few days from the one-year anniversary of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, and many survivors are still waiting for a new home. It’s simply unacceptable – but it’s sadly no surprise when the situation is just as stark throughout the country.

Only 290,000 social homes were made available in 2016/17 – despite over one million households being on the waiting list. That’s a whopping shortfall of 800,000 homes. Why? A combination of much-needed social homes being sold … 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

Should safe cladding come at the expense of new affordable homes?
Should safe cladding come at the expense of new affordable homes?

The government has been criticised for deciding to pay for the removal and replacement of unsafe cladding on social housing tower blocks by dipping into the budget for new social house building.

We have previously praised the government for stepping forward to fund this vital work to remove unsafe cladding. Alongside indications it will ban combustible cladding entirely, this will go a long way to tackling some of the construction failings that have been blamed for the tragedy at Grenfell.… 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

Mind the gap: why do we still have distance between housing rhetoric and reality?
Mind the gap: why do we still have distance between housing rhetoric and reality?

If we measured progress by press releases, these would be heady days for the housing sector. Every other week for the past few years has brought with it a string of announcements from the top of government aimed at tackling the housing crisis and the shortage of homes.

Many of the changes won have been genuine and important. Letting fees banned; the affordable housing budget trebled since 2011; borrowing caps raised; all homes to be made fit for human habitation; … Read more

What is a ‘desktop study’ and should they be banned?
What is a ‘desktop study’ and should they be banned?

Since the Grenfell Tower fire, the practice of using ‘desktop studies’ to sign-off cladding systems as fire safe has been the subject of significant controversy.

Despite the official review of building regulations calling for ‘significant restrictions’ on desktop studies and others calling for an absolute ban, the government has recently published proposals that could see them used more.

What is a desktop study?

Although building regulations have a reputation for being complex, some background is necessary to understand where … Read more

Housebuilding changes could mean fewer, not more, affordable homes
Housebuilding changes could mean fewer, not more, affordable homes

In March this year, Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a major housing speech as the government published its draft proposals on changing the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – the set of rules which guide how homes are built.

Our analysis concludes that despite the government’s intentions, parts of the proposals risk resulting in fewer affordable homes being built.

This is because an affordable housing loophole, known as a ‘viability assessment‘, could become both more common and more … Read more

Yes, we must build more homes
Yes, we must build more homes

This is my last ever blog for Shelter, so I hope I can be forgiven for indulging in a bit of arguing-with-men-on-the-internet.

Challenging the consensus

There is no denying that there is now a well-established consensus that England has not been building enough homes for many years, so it was probably inevitable that it would get challenged. We should welcome that: challenging the received wisdom is always a worthwhile check on complacency. But the truth in this case is that … Read more