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

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

Spring is in the air
Spring is in the air

We were promised that the chancellor’s Spring Statement today would be boring – and he didn’t disappoint.

As all the big news will be in the Autumn Budget, observers only have some relatively minor details to comment on – but there’s always something of interest in the details, and some of the details this time suggest the end of the long winter of the housing shortage may finally be in sight.

Firstly, it’s great that tackling the housing crisis is … 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

Ingredients for a public housebuilding revolution
Ingredients for a public housebuilding revolution

A year ago today we launched New Civic Housebuilding, setting out our vision for reviving England’s tradition of building attractive, affordable homes. With the newly rebranded Ministry of Housing and its agency, Homes England, talking up their role in transforming house building, and the new National Planning Policy Framework due next week, this feels like a good moment to assess progress.

The need for public housebuilding

The government commitment to building a lot more homes is an essential first … Read more