North-south divide in housing targets

More on the impact of the mutant housing algorithm – Owl

Melissa York, Assistant Property Editor 

A new housebuilding algorithm will mean that northern councils have to cancel their plans while huge numbers of homes are built in the south, according to an analysis.

Last month the government said that it was looking to revise quotas for local councils using a formula based on “relative affordability”, among other factors. The targets would be compulsory and create local “growth” zones that would automatically approve developments with little input from local councillors.

The Local Government Association (LGA) compared housebuilding targets under the proposed regime with the current one and found that the results would lead to a housing boom in London and the south and fewer homes being built in the north.

In Dover, the council would be expected to deliver 294 per cent more homes than it has done in recent years, according to the LGA’s estimate, while Tunbridge Wells, in Kent, would have to increase housebuilding by 184 per cent.

In the north, it found that housebuilding would decrease, with 66 per cent fewer homes built in Newcastle, 59 per cent in Liverpool, 20 per cent in Sheffield and 16 per cent in Leeds. Rural areas would be disproportionately affected, with some of them seeing a 59 per cent increase in homes under the updated algorithm, compared with a 20 per cent increase in urban areas. The LGA said it was not the planning system but housing delivery that was “fundamentally broken”, because nine out of ten applications were approved.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “The LGA’s fears are unfounded. The current formula for local housing need is inconsistent with our aim to deliver 300,000 homes by the mid-2020s.”