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CCN calls for larger county council role in planning

A larger role for county councils in planning to solve the affordability crisis has been backed by two new reports launched today.

A study from Catriona Riddell Associates for the County Councils Network (CCN) has called for a re-introduction of strategic planning to “closer align planning and infrastructure” and accelerate housing delivery.

While the Town and Country Planning Association’s (TCPA) report for the CCN backs closer collaboration between the two tiers of councils in county areas, especially in the proposed Statement for Common Ground, giving district councils the capacity to plan for homes over a larger area and the county the ability to plan for infrastructure and service provision.

The TCPA report, ‘Building for the future,’ includes a survey which revealed that nine out of 10 county councils class their need for affordable housing as either severe or moderate.

It recommends that the government directs resources to improving capacity so more counties can develop housebuilding initiatives, and that minimum standards are introduced so that homes cater for elderly and disabled people.

It also argues that there should be a clear recognition of the role that counties can play in solving the housing and affordability crisis in the forthcoming Affordable Housing Green Paper.

Kate Henderson, chief executive of TCPA, said: “Counties are innovating right across the country, making the most of their assets such as land owned by the council or public sector. The study reveals that counties understand that to realise the true value of land they must do more than just maximise sales receipts.

“They are aware that they must understand the potential for long-term income streams, have a stake in the quality of the development, and secure wider social and economic benefits. Ultimately the report demonstrates that counties are an important part of the solution to the national housing crisis.”

According to the CCN, on average just one quarter of homes built in counties over the last seven years are affordable houses, compared to 44% in London and 34% in cities and metropolitan boroughs. In the east of England this figure is less than a quarter, and in Yorkshire just one fifth.

Both reports were launched today at a national housing conference, organised by the CCN.

Cllr Philip Atkins, CCN spokesperson for housing, planning and infrastructure, said: “Today’s research reveals counties have strong concerns over the ability of young people to afford their own homes, which stretches the length and breadth of the country; from Cornwall to Cumbria.”

He added: “Whilst counties are taking matters into their own hands, their ambitions remain shackled by planning reforms that do not go far enough, especially on planning on a strategic scale.

“These reports today set out a series of recommendations to enable counties to do more to deliver the homes for people of all ages the country desperately needs; properties of the right tenures and in the right places, backed by the necessary infrastructure to ensure that we build sustainable communities, not just simply houses.”


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