RICS slam government planing for housing proposal

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has slammed the Governments proposal on planning for housing provision, as making hot markets even hotter rather than more affordable.

The Government has proposed local authorities build up 15 year land banks so they can quickly allow land to be released for building houses when local markets rise so fast that housing becomes unaffordable to many.

However, RICS says the proposal wont work because it takes the planning decision on location of housing provisional out of the hands of local authorities, and is a disincentive to develop more difficult sites, such as brownfield.

The proposals would mean the abolition of the ‘plan, monitor, manage’ approach to housing numbers, which the Government admitted had failed. Instead, ministers are now seeking to allow the planning system to respond faster to the housing market so that more homes can be built where they are needed. The proposed reforms aim to do this by:

* reforming regional spatial strategies so that they establish the overall level of new housing provision for regions, based on analysis of housing markets, rather than demographic trends
* forcing local authorities to allocate land to deliver housing for a rolling five year period, with a further 10 year supply of allocated land ready as a buffer
* forcing local authorities to monitor their housing supply more closely and forcing the review of regional plans when there are changes in housing market conditions
* putting more focus on the development of brownfield sites housing market so that more homes can be built where they are needed.

RICS has issued a submission to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which says the context in which this consultation paper is set could not be more bleak – the trend of affordable housing provision has, certainly in the last decade, been moving ever downward towards the current crisis-point.

It says house prices are only one indication, and many factors contributing to the market. It also criticises the proposal for a total pool of 15 years allocated land supply, and warns this could jeopardise regeneration as difficult sites could well be left aside whilst the easier sites are developed.

And despite the Government’s claims that more emphasis is being placed on the development of brownfield sites, RICS says that the trigger to release more land may actually result in development being targeted at over-priced hotspots that are already overstretched, leading to a cycle that could be difficult to stop as it encroaches upon non-brownfield land.

Attempts to link the level of house price inflation with the level of land released, RICS says, will be difficult, complex and controversial, and if the goal is to stabilise or even cut the price levels in many areas of high growth there would have to be a virtual doubling of supply over an extended period of time. Given that such a scale of development is unlikely to be acceptable, the net result will probably be some valuable addition to the housing stock but a very minor improvement in affordability

RICS says the Government needs to produce a single statement with accompanying guidance published alongside it and at the same time, and all policy relating to planning for housing should come in one holistic, overarching and joined-up document.