LGA ‘Housing the Nation' campaign call for government to free councils to tackle the housing crisis

Published on Thursday, 07 June 2012 09:30
Posted by Scott Buckler

Ensuring that new housing development comes with roads, schools and parks is vital to tackling the housing crisis and overcoming public opposition, local government leaders have said

A survey of frontline councillors carried out by the Local Government Association reveals that public opposition is the single biggest barrier to the building of new homes. However, development which comes with appropriate infrastructure is nearly four times more likely to be supported by the public, according to councillors.

The LGA is today launching a ‘Housing the Nation' campaign, calling on government to remove some of the restrictions hampering local authority efforts to tackle the nation's housing crisis.

It is warning that councils' efforts to ensure that all new developments come with the appropriate infrastructure like roads, schools and parks risk being undermined by government proposals to allow developers to force councils to reopen Section 106 agreements previously agreed with developers.

According to government figures only 106,050 new homes were built in 2010/11 compared to 160,030 in 1990/91. Approximately 250,000 are required each year to meet demand.

The LGA's survey of frontline councillors found that:

    Four in five respondent councillors (84 per cent) say their local authority area is in need of new housing.
    42 per cent of councillors thought residents in their area were, on balance, opposed to new housing.
    But, when proposed housing developments comes with the necessary infrastructure, only 11 per cent of councillors said residents would still be opposed.
    Public opposition was cited as single biggest barrier to new housing. 59 per cent of councillors said it had been a barrier to new housing developments in their area in the past two years.
    

Cllr Keith House, Deputy Chairman of the LGA's Environment Board, said:

"It is widely recognised by all that we desperately need new homes and at the moment, there simply aren't enough being built.

"Councils play a crucial role both in providing affordable and social housing and working with developers to plan new private sector housing. But to do this more effectively, local authorities need greater freedom and financial control to invest in new and existing homes. The constraints of Whitehall are preventing local authorities from tackling the housing crisis.

Our survey shows that one of the biggest obstacles to new housing being built is public opposition. People don't dispute the desperate need for new housing. But quite understandably they just don't want a new housing estate down the road if it is going to lead to congested roads and crowded classrooms.

Councillors have to balance the interests of their residents with the wider needs of the area. The current economic crisis means that new development is scarce and councils are doing what they can to encourage growth in their areas. This includes providing land and assets, overwhelmingly saying 'yes' through the planning process and, where appropriate, renegotiating Section 106 agreements.

By allowing local authorities the flexibility to finance new homes and make best use of the homes already available councils can play a role to turn the tide on the housing crisis and get to work providing the new homes the country so desperately needs."

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