Places for People’s pre-election survey found that more than 50% of people worry about the strain that housebuilding would put on existing infrastructure

A survey conducted for the 240,000-home housing association Places for People has found that almost two-thirds of respondents are supportive of new affordable and social house building in their local area.

Dinny Shaw

Source: Places for People

Dinny Shaw, head of planning at Places for People

However, 58% of the 4,000 people polled across the UK said they were concerned about the strain that housebuilding would place on existing facilities and services.

As a result, 71% of those surveyed said they believe that there should be more upfront investment in local infrastructure projects, such as schools, doctors’ surgeries and hospitals, for new housebuilding schemes.

Those living in regions traditionally associated with higher house prices (South East 67%, South West 66% and the East of England 66%) are more likely to be concerned about the strain new housebuilding will put on their existing services. The devolved nations were the least likely to be worried about the impact.

Furthermore, there was less concern about infrastructure delivery among people who rent (63% on average) compared to homeowners (76%), while those who live in urban areas (48%) are less concerned than those who live rurally (63%).

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The survey, conducted by market research agency Opinium on behalf of PfP, polled 4,000 people across the UK, encompassing a diverse mix of housing situations, financial backgrounds, age groups, genders, and other demographics.

Its aim was to understand the public’s aspirations around housing in the lead up to the General Election on 4 July 2024.

Dinny Shaw, head of planning at Places for People said: “There is a clear appetite for not only new housebuilding, but new communities from the UK public. We want to create thriving new communities, along with community infrastructure, but this cannot be done without deliverable planning permissions”.

Shaw added that before talking about a housing crisis, there is also a planning crisis: “And it’s getting worse. Only 21% of Local Planning Authorities adopted a Local Plan in the last 5 years. In the last 12 months only 10,406 sites were granted planning permission, the lowest number since 2006, and it’s taking an average of 28 weeks for any proposal to make it through the system”.

She said: “Long term, we need a clear framework in place that unlocks more land for new homes and delivers planning consents needed to support future growth in housing delivery.

In the short term, we need to see a new Government invest in local planning authorities, set a clear direction and policy framework to speed up decision-making, and invest to unlock sites that are caught up in viability issues”.

Shaw continued: “With a growing need for more affordable housing unless we tackle these issues that directly impact supply any incoming government can say goodbye to their ambitious build targets. Too many years of talk and little action have led us to this point. We need to tackle the crisis within our planning departments across the UK and rebalance investment in housing and infrastructure so we can unlock and deliver the homes the UK so desperately needs. The time for talking is over, the time to build is now.”