Town and Country Planning Association (Improving the planning system) 

Funding at a glance

Programme: Nurturing Ideas to Change the Housing System
Amount: £155,805 grant
Approved: 2017
Timescale: 18 months
Status: Funding complete 

Empowering local authorities with the capacity, skills and confidence to negotiate with housing developers to deliver more affordable housing.

Why we funded this project

To build evidence on how the planning system delivers affordable housing and to use this evidence to influence changes to policy and practice. The intention is that this will lead to the increased supply of genuinely affordable homes (homes at social rent levels).

Strategic purpose

Improve understanding of which ideas have potential to create change.

Project description

The first phase of this project was to collect robust evidence on the current planning system and to build recommendations on how local plans could set a higher ambition for affordable housing and how to ensure this is delivered.

This evidence was published in Planning for Affordable Housing, revealing that the planning system is one of the main drivers for delivering affordable housing in England, with 70% of councils saying they rely on it substantially to allow them to meet housing need.

The report showed that local requirements for affordable housing are usually set as a percentage of overall housing delivered on a scheme. Deprived areas are being left behind by the current system because only high-value areas can meet developers’ profit expectations and still deliver affordable homes. Figures showed that although over half of councils set a minimum threshold for genuinely affordable housing using their local plans, only 2% manage to achieve it.

Using the evidence, TCPA has developed guidance and training for local authorities across England so that they can make the most of their planning powers to secure higher levels of affordable homes. This support involves sharing best practice models from local authorities that are doing well at delivering affordable homes (identified in Planning for Affordable Homes) and also empowering local authorities by giving them more confidence and skills to negotiate and hold developers to account.

Through this project, TCPA also influenced central government’s planning policies, including on:
• National Planning Policy Framework
• Social housing
• Permitted development rights
• Viability assessments

This project built on learning from a previously funded project How can councils secure the delivery of more affordable homes? New models, partnerships and innovations.

Town and Country Planning Association

Back to funding 2016–present