Survey of social landlords raises concern about planning reforms

A new survey of social landlords, managing up to 900,000 homes, has been published by the Affordable Housing Commission. The survey, compiling responses from 54 organisations across England, found a range of worries and concerns surrounding the government’s proposed changes to the planning system. Results found that:

  • 72% of respondents disputed the government’s claim that the planning reforms will help build the homes the country needs
  • 85% of social landlords (council and housing associations) surveyed think the reforms will lead to less social and affordable housing
  • 63% of respondents do not believe that the potential benefits are outweighed by the disruption the reforms could cause
  • 74% of social landlords think it is not the right time to be introducing major planning reforms.

Lord Richard Best, Chair of the Affordable Housing Commission, said: “The intentions of the government’s planning reforms – to achieve more speedy development and better quality housing – are commendable; but social landlords fear the reforms could reduce the total output of homes for those on lower incomes. This would be a set-back for the Affordable Housing Commission’s aims for a housing-led recovery post-Covid with an emphasis on more affordable homes to rent.”

Leigh Pearce, Chief Executive of the Nationwide Foundation said: “We are deeply concerned that the White Paper does not set out plans for how enough genuinely affordable homes will be delivered. It is worrying to see the findings that social landlords believe that the new fixed rate Infrastructure Levy will not result in the same or increased levels of affordable housing and that they think it will lead to fewer social homes. This is set against a backdrop of already very low delivery of new social rented homes in recent years. Therefore, we call on government to give more consideration to how the planning reforms will ensure genuinely affordable homes are built in greater numbers.”

The Affordable Housing Commission brings together a group of 15 key players from across the housing world. Its previous work has included an in-depth report into England’s housing system, consideration of how housing can be put at the centre of the UK’s recovery from Covid-19 and a proposal to buy up private rented sector properties and turn them into social housing. The Nationwide Foundation has supported the work of the Affordable Housing Commission since 2018.