The NPF kicks off 2024 programme with the launch of UCL’s report on Local Authority Housing Delivery

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The launch of UCL’s report on Local Authority Direct Housing Delivery on 24th January at Savills offices in London marked the first live event of the NPF for some time. The National Planning Forum was established with the purpose of providing a platform for cross sectorial debate on planning issues and it was good to listen to the lively debate on affordable housing delivery from all sectors present.

Report authors Janice Morphet and Ben Clifford gave an overview of key findings from their report on the topic and a selection of private and public sector representatives provided perspective on the issues it raised. This is the fourth report in a series that started in 2017 and trends over that period included the steady increase in housing activity by local authorities over that period (now a mainstream activity) with more flexible approaches to how it happens emerging, although activity is stymied by increasing construction costs and environmental standards; overall, a significantly higher percentage of respondents were pessimistic about the prospects of increasing affordable housing supply in their areas compared to 2017.

Other speakers reflected on the impact of right to buy (overall annual loss of 0.7% of stock as a result); how housing companies can be better utilised; 31% fewer rental listings in London now that the week before covid lockdown started; the importance of new build in generating future net income; challenges in the delivery of affordable housing in regeneration schemes at Rotherham and Rugby and the importance of ensuring local plan affordable housing policies reflect the specific circumstances of a local area.

Lively debate ensued between the panel and audience. The role of right to buy, the impact of re-use of housing receipts, the skills and labour shortages, the impact of not meeting housing demand in an area on other service areas for local authorities, and the role of planning as an enabling tool were discussed. One point of agreement was the need for a more integrated approach between planning and housing sections in local authorities, and a call for government to rethink funding for affordable housing in light of increasing pressures and demand.

Fionnuala Lennon
National Planning Forum Management Committee

Read the full report here