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National Planning Policy Framework "hinders building of affordable housing": councils

Almost three-quarters of councils (72%) think that the viability test laid out in the National Planning Policy Framework hinders their ability to build social and affordable housing, research has suggested.

Just 11% of those surveyed for a report on housing need published by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) considered that the test would provide the numbers of homes needed.

The survey of council leaders, chief executives, heads of planning, heads of housing and heads of finance saw 96% of councils describe their need for affordable housing as “severe” or “moderate”.

Only a handful (7%) thought that starter homes would help address affordable housing.

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The report, Homes for all: Ensuring councils can deliver the homes we need, called on the Government to put in place a housing strategy that would provide decent homes for everyone in society.

It also recommended that councils should not be forced to sell-off their social housing to fund the extension of Right to Buy. Some nine out of ten councils were worried that the extension of Right to Buy would lead to less housing available for social rent, it said.

The report also highlights examples of innovation in local government, including effective new models of housing delivery.

TCPA chief executive Kate Henderson said: “With 96% of councils describing their need for affordable homes as severe or moderate, and 89% worried that the extension of Right to Buy will lead to less affordable homes, it is clear that there is a real crisis.

“Councils are concerned that government policy is not enabling them to deliver genuinely affordable housing – we need to have a housing strategy that provides affordable homes to all people.”

Paul O’Brien, Chief Executive of APSE, said: “Our main message is we need Government to put in place a housing strategy for the nation that provides decent homes for all. Whilst efforts have been concentrated on so-called affordable homes this is often not the case and these homes remain out of reach for the vast majority of people.

“The situation is even worse for those dependent on social and genuinely affordable housing for rent. Current housing policy is in need of demolition. The time has come to start afresh by putting local authorities and new council homes at the heart of a new housing strategy.”

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