1st Jul, 2022

West Midlands councils face swathe of developments under 'affordability criteria' for new homes

John Carlon 8th Sep, 2020 Updated: 8th Sep, 2020

THE GOVERNMENT’S new method for predicting house building levels could see almost all councils in the West Midlands region forced to allow more developments.

Councils use the National Planning Policy Framework to consider new developments, but changes in calculating future need for homes will up targets.

Planning consultancy Lichfields says a formula brought in by the government in 2018, the standard method which uses existing homes as a baseline, could increase housing need levels by 40 per cent on average across the region.

The new calculation method comes years after some council’s Local Plans were agreed, which guide planning officers in whether a proposed development meets local need.

Myles Wild-Smith, a planning consultant at Lichfield’s, says the West Midlands could see significant changes in home building.

“Nearly 90 per cent of authorities across the West Midlands will see an increase in their housing need figure under the standard method.

“The West Midlands region would be expected to deliver around 27,500 homes per acre, a significant 40 per cent boost in supply compared to the current method, and a cumulative 25 per cent boost on recent delivery levels across the region.

Councils which stand to see the greatest variation from the Local Plan levels include Stratford-on-Avon, Wychavon and North Warwickshire.

Mr Wild-Smith added: “The rise in housing need across the region is a result of the proposed new method’s increased emphasis on affordability.

“The new method removes the affordability ‘cap’ which applies affordability uplifts based on the change in the ratio over last 10 years, which has led to significantly higher levels of need across the West Midlands due to the worsening affordability.”

Areas such as Solihull, which is recalculating housing need predictions after the borough lost a legal challenge from developers over greenbelt protection, could also be forced to boost predicted new homes.

While Solihull has yet to agree a homes requirement in the Local Plan, the government’s new formula would see the borough allow a 45 per cent increase on the past three year average of 696 new homes per year.

Guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says “The standard method uses a formula to identify the minimum number of homes expected to be planned for, in a way which addresses projected household growth and historic under-supply.

“The standard method identifies a minimum annual housing need figure. It does not produce a housing requirement figure, and it is not mandatory, though any other method will be used only in exceptional circumstances.”

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