December 28, 2012

Planning for Less: The impact of abolishing regional planning

Councils across England have radically reduced their housing targets. This has contributed to a situation where the Coalition could end up presiding over the lowest level of housebuilding since the 1920s.

Planning for Less shows that councils are planning to build 272,720 fewer new homes since the abolition of regional planning. The figures, produced by planning consultancy Tetlow King, show that since the revocation of Regional Spatial Strategies in 2010, local authorities have used their beefed up planning powers to reduce housing targets. The largest reductions are in the South East (-57,049) and South West (-108,380), areas with the greatest housing shortage.

The report says lowering housing targets will eventually lead to fewer homes being built. Although the targets are seldom hit, they govern the release of land for housing, meaning less land will be made available. Without significant changes to the planning system, housing numbers will continue to fall over time.

The report argues that the Government should not be too aggressive toward councils reducing targets, except where they are clearly ignoring their responsibilities. It argues that instead the Government should focus on ensuring councils actually deliver the homes their targets propose.

It proposes:

  • increasing the power and number of neighbourhood plans and directly channelling funds from the Community Infrastructure Levy to households affected by new development
  • converting more brownfield sites into housing

Alex Morton, author of the report, “The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have rightly made it clear that we need to build more homes. Yet the government is on track to preside over the lowest level of housebuilding since the 1920s.

“Relying on councils to expand housing targets was a mistake. However, now the Coalition should focus on fixing the multiple failures with the housing market – not fighting councils. This can help us begin to build the homes we need.”

You can download the full figures – produced by planning consultancy Tetlow King here.


Alex Morton

Head of Housing, Planning & Urban Policy, 2010-2013

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