The call for 300,000 new homes being built per year by the government has led to the potential of large areas of green space being built over in the UK. But what are the facts?

With contradictory ‘evidence’ it seems that central government will push through the building of these homes with the aim of reducing house prices, stimulating the building industry and addressing the low housing stock.

‘Reducing house prices’.

Will builders sell houses at less than the current market rate? The volume of ‘affordable’ house building is the main issue here.If builders were willing to sell at less than the current market price they would be doing so now.

‘Stimulating the building industry’ 
Without doubt, this could well happen but it is linked to ‘Reducing house prices’ The other crucial factors are the supply of skilled tradesmen and the effect of Brexit on immigration to supply the workforce required.

‘Addressing low housing stock’

The trend towards small investor landlords selling their currently rented properties will gradually release more homes for purchase. Net Stock of housing is growing by 15%.

From the  Department of Communities & Local Government:

Annual housing supply in England amounted to 217,350 net additional dwellings in 2016-17, up 15% on 2015-16.
The 217,350 net additions in 2016-17 resulted from 183,570 new build homes, 37,190 gains from change of use between non-domestic and residential, 5,680 from conversions between houses and flats and 720 other gains (caravans, house boats etc.), offset by 9,820 demolitions.

You can read the whole report by clicking here:  Report

 

Solent Times looks at some expert opinions from recent BBC reports Insight Fareham and government figures.

Why do we need to build?

Annual demographic change. Figures are open to interpretation but the chart below from the ONS shows a decrease and flattening in recent years. This does not show immigration figures. However, it could be presumed that immigration from Europe will be affected by Brexit.

From the recent BBC interviews:

Malcolm Tait, professor of planning at University of Sheffield, said that the 300,000 recommended by the report “is on the high side of recommendations, but was derived due to their view that in order to keep house prices consistent with wages, this was the figure required”.

Richard Disney, professor of economics at University of Sussex, said: “The simple answer is this is a number plucked out of thin air since affordability depends on price and income.”

But he pointed out that the Conservative manifesto of 2015 promised one million new homes by 2020 and that the pace of construction is going to have to pick up to meet that target.

Between April 2015 and the end of March 2017, a total of 287,600 homes have been built, so if the government is going to meet its manifesto pledge from 2015 of a million homes by 2020, there will need to be a considerable increase in the next three years to an average of more than 237,000 a year.

Steve Hayes from the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “We would certainly agree with this – to meet existing and new needs, 300,000 is about right. Of course, the key is what type of housing.”

By recent standards, 300,000 is a very high number – the last time that many were completed in a year was in the financial year 1969-70.

Some of the experts disputed that 300,000 would make much difference to affordability.

Prof Michael Oxley, director of the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research, agreed: “Saying we need around 300,000 per year for several years is not a bad generalisation, but this is more houses to meet the requirements of a growing population.”

He added that those extra houses would only have a very small impact on house prices. “For the impact on affordability to be significant, a very large number of the extra dwellings would have to be social dwellings supplied by housing associations or local authorities,” he said.

David Clapham, professor of planning at Henley Business School, said: “300,000 is the number required to meet annual demographic change. There is little evidence that this will impact on house prices unless it is sustained over a large number of years as new production is a small proportion of the total stock of housing.”

He also criticised the government’s Help to Buy programme for making the problem worse by increasing demand and raising house prices further.

Christine Whitehead, professor of housing economics at LSE, questioned whether that many houses could be built. “Would there be enough demand to make it worthwhile for suppliers to actually supply the housing? There are reasons why market completions have rarely exceeded around 170,000,” she said.

Lindsay Judge, from the Resolution Foundation, agreed with the 300,000 as a minimum annual figure, adding that: “In recent years, the ‘affordable’ homes that have been built are increasingly higher-priced varieties. A greater proportion of genuinely affordable homes to rent and own will be needed to make housing less of a living standards burden for families.”

There is another measure of homes built, which is net additional dwellings, which DCLG considers to be its leading indicator of housing supply.

Net additional dwellings include things like business premises being converted into residential property and subtracts properties that have been demolished.

This measure is also well below 300,000 a year.

From the Insight Fareham Focus group:

The starting point and the driver of the Draft Local Plan is work commission by The Partnership for Urban South Hampshire.

Objectively-Assessed Housing Need
http://www.push.gov.uk/…/strategic_housing_market_assessmen…

South Hampshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment
http://www.push.gov.uk/south_hampshire_shma_final_report__1…

The orthodox thinking of those who conform to the narrative that we need to build 250 to 300 thousand new homes a year across the UK to meet housing demand will point to the fact, the Fareham’s Draft Local Plan is based on evidence which is coherent with The Partnership for Urban South Hampshire’s ( PUSH ) commissioned reports, of course they are correct.

1) Objectively-Assessed Housing Need
2) South Hampshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment.

Both reports reflect The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) assessment of housing need who in turn base their assessment on the Office for National Statistic’s (ONS) future household projections.

The problem, of course, the calculations used in all this work are projections based on assumptions, conjecture, and theories with a large dose of hope that the final figures may be plausible, reasonable and convincing.

If one looks at past forecasts by ONS then one can see there has been a persistent record of overemphasising with regard to future household projections. There is also the matter of what accuracy to apply to the figures being used to determine future household need.

Household projections are driven by assumptions on future levels of fertility, mortality and net migration. Over years ONS has had to correct their forecasts downwards on all of these measures.

The household projections use the latest population projections from ONS and are inevitably dependent on the accuracy of those estimates. The projection methodology for the population projections does not enable calculations of probability, standard errors or confidence intervals and, similarly, cannot be calculated for the household projections and therefore in all probability have inaccuracies, but who cares, if we ALL keep saying we need 300 thousand new houses a year then that must be true!

The figures being used for building thousands of homes across Fareham could well be hopelessly out of tune with reality and yet no one has challenged the data used by PUSH to determine housing need in this Borough.

When PUSH commissioned their reports it was PUSH’s intention to allow the public to have their say on the report’s findings through a public consultation. The consultation was delayed and finally withdrawn with the announcement that the public consultation would form part of the various Draft Local Plan Reviews which members of PUSH would bring forward.

I would suggest transporting the public consultation of PUSH’s work to the local plan reviews being undertaken by the members of PUSH is far too late in the planning process and this is born out by Fareham’s Local Draft Plan consultation. There is no opportunity for Fareham residents to challenge PUSH’s work and the data which is driving new housing numbers.

The Draft Local Plan already has a built-in strategy, principally development should be located in three key areas. Warsash, Fareham Town Centre and Portchester. Other areas are also being targeted, Park Gate, Wallington, Stubbington and Funtley.

The government are clear, communities should be part of the planning process, they should be involved at the earliest stages of a Draft Local Plan when evidence gathering is initiated and officers start to shape the strategy and direction of the plan.

The Draft Local Plan doesn’t even have options for the residents to consider, merely a list of preferred housing allocations which addresses the crisis caused by the Cranleigh Road Inspector who decided our present local plan was unsound. With no options being presented to residents one should not be surprised if developers undertake the task on behalf of the Council.

For those who hold to the view, the Draft Local Plan can be changed through the present public consultation and I do hope so, hopefully, they will not have much explaining to do next spring.But for now let us all take some time and ensure our views are known, so if you are for or against the local plan proposals make your voice heard. visit http://www.fareham.gov.uk/planni…/localplanconsultation.aspx