National Audit Office report on housing: CCN responds

CCN Latest News | 08 February 2019

Today the National Audit Office have released a new report, ‘Planning for new homes’, which has found that the government’s planning system is ‘under performing’ and cannot show it is meeting demand effectively.

County areas have some of the highest house prices outside of London – with property prices rising to twelve times annual average earnings in some places. The County Councils Network has long called for greater reform to the planning system, with a greater emphasis on collaborative strategic planning over a county-wide scale in two-tier county areas, to help meet housing need but also to ensure that infrastructure to mitigate development is fully funded.

Last year, the network released two reports, ‘County Councils and Strategic Planning‘, produced by Catriona Riddell Associates, and ‘Building for the Future: The Role of County Councils in Meeting House Need’ – produced by the Town and Country Planning Association. Both reports which backed a larger role for county councils in meeting housing need, and showcased good practice already happening.

Below, CCN responds to the report.

Cllr Philip Atkins, CCN spokesman for housing, planning, and infrastructure, said:

“We welcome the findings of today’s research, illustrating issues within the planning system and raising concerns over how infrastructure, so crucial for sustainable development, will be funded in the future. It chimes with what we are seeing on the ground; with house prices in county areas rose at triple the rate of London’s in 2017, and infrastructure funding gaps are running into hundreds of millions in some of our areas. We are seeing a disillusioned youth locked out of home ownership and a real question mark over how we finance the roads and amenities for future development that is in the pipeline.

“Whilst the government’s emphasis on building more homes is welcome, CCN has argued for a long time that its planning reforms do not go far enough and bolder change is required to deliver the number of homes the country needs.

“If we are to build the right homes, in the right places, with the necessary infrastructure, then we need to move towards strategic planning on a county scale, working in strong collaboration with district partners and neighbouring councils. To that end, we would encourage more ‘Housing Deals’ outside of city areas and for rural areas to have the same planning powers that are currently only on offer to urban metro mayors to help deliver more houses in England’s counties.

“A closer alignment of planning and co-ordinated infrastructure provision across a county-wide geography will enable us to overcome the current fragmented approach to the planning system and build more homes and genuinely sustainable communities.”