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Local plans a ‘very weak way’ for councils to change land use for housing

Local authorities should directly commission new homes in order to address the shortfall in affordable housing, the charity Shelter has said.

In a new briefing paper, Shelter says that local and national governments should pilot building affordable homes, which can then be sold to local housing associations to manage.

This should incorporate a wide range of affordable housing, including shared ownership, social rented accommodation and Build to Rent properties, as well as Starter Homes.

The LGA has called for a ‘renaissance’ in council house building after warning that up to 5.4 million people will need affordable homes by 2024.

Research conducted by Capital Economics for Shelter suggests that house building will decrease by 8% this year, following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.

Shelter also says that the current system of Local Plans and Neighbourhood plans is “a very weak way of creating positive changes to land use and a mediocre way of blocking negative changes to land use”.

It says that councils are developing “ambitious” housing plans but have no powers to enact them, for instance by compelling landowners to implement growth on brownfield land.

Instead, Shelter recommends the government should expand the Housing Zones policy, allowing communities and councils to designate sites as Housing Zones.

This would require the owners to bring forward development on the sites, and should be backed up with credible compulsory purchase powers.

Among other suggestions, Shelter said that it supported the idea of a Growing Britain Fund to support new housing, suggested by Stephen Crabb in his bid for leadership of the Conservative party.

It also said that the government should commission more SME firms to build housing, release small packages of land to do so, and incentivise lenders to provide them with finance.

In addition, Shelter recommended that public bodies should face penalties for failing to use their assets to develop homes.

London mayor Sadiq Khan announced yesterday that he will instruct Transport for London to ensure 50% of housing built on its redundant land is affordable.

To support house-building initiatives by councils, community organisations and SMEs, it said that more transparent information is needed about who owns land, how much it is worth and what its planning agreement is.

The government is in the middle of a controversial plan to privatise the Land Registry, which holds information about who owns land in the UK.

(Image c. Yui Mok from Press Association Images)

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Steven Boxall (Regeneration X)   30/08/2016 at 13:07

This report from Shelter contains many of the things I said over 2 years ago - see my blog if interested: We actually know how to get more homes built - it seems to be political dogma which is stopping us.

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