Local Authority Housebuilding Requires Planners for Success

A recent practice advice note released by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) suggests that the plan making and public engagement skills planners have provides a key role in the current resurgence of local authority housebuilding. The note also considers how local authority planners can balance supporting and promoting authority-led developments with impartial scrutiny for all developments. This suggests that the use of external planning consultants by local authorities may provide better results. 

More than two thirds of local authorities are now directly involved in delivering housing, with delivery in numbers not seen for over 20 years.

RTPI Policy Officer Tom Kenny describes the new advice within the note as a call to action, as well as a best practice guide.

“This practice advice comes after almost three years of RTPI research on the resurgence in local authorities returning to housebuilding and the role of planners within it. We’ve heard about the experience of planners and other officers from local authorities of all kinds in every region of England. Now it’s time to move from research to action.

 – Tom Kenny, RTPI Policy Officer

Following the 2011 Localism Act, there arose the opportunity for local authorities to return to housebuilding following years of relative inactivity. Previously, restrictions on borrowing through the Housing Revenue Account (HRA), the Right to Buy scheme, and a general lack of grant funding had made housebuilding unattractive to local authorities. However, the introduction of the Localism Act allowed local authorities to suet up wholly or partly-owned housing companies. This enabled them to build outside the restrictions imposed on the HRA.

Since then, delivery of housing by local authority has accelerated. These include momentum from initial successes carrying forward, further policy changes supporting housing delivery, and it becoming increasingly apparent to many authorities that the market alone will not meet their specialist housing needs.

Whilst certain policy barrier continue to frustrate local authority-led developments, such as Right to Buy, the latest RTPI research has found that more than two thirds of local authorities are now directly involved in delivering housing, with delivery in numbers not seen for over 20 years. 

At ethical partnership, we hope that the councils and housing associations responsible for the building of new social housing consider utilising the Lifetime Homes scheme. A Lifetime Home follows 16 design criteria that provide the absolute model for building accessible and adaptable homes.  From consideration of approach gradients, level entrance thresholds, through to reinforcement of ceilings and walls to allow tracking hoist routes and handrails, Lifetime Homes are ideal for those with additional physical and sensory needs – as well as supporting an ageing population and their carers. Contact us for more information.

At ethical partnership we are passionate about meeting the needs of our entire population through the Lifetime Homes scheme and hope that councils and housing associations consider them for new social housing. Design reviews, training of builders and trades and undertaking site audits are just some of the services we offer. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up-to-date with developments in the planning industry, and contact us today for more information.

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