The methods for allocating local housing targets need to be fixed

Paul Smith CROP

The formulas for calculating housing need produce some strange results. Planning reform promises a better way

The government’s proposed reforms of the planning system have highlighted the challenge of deciding how many new homes get built where. It is a difficulty the government has grappled with for some time and is not about to go away. It might seem like a tedious debate, but it is central to the way the planning system operates - and to tackle the housing crisis.

In 2012 - what now seems like an age ago - the government got rid of top down housing targets imposed through regional spatial strategies and instead asked local councils to calculate their own housing need and then plan to deliver it. Without detailed guidance on how that should be done, local plan examinations became bogged down in arcane discussions around the minutiae of the calculation employed by the council and how that compared to the various competing calculations advanced by those in the development industry.

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