An article in the Telegraph today reports on claims made by Taylor Wimpey that the Housing Secretary has watered down local housing targets for councils which is holding back housebuilding.
This is not true. The Housing Secretary’s written ministerial statement in December 2022 confirmed that the standard method for assessing local housing need would remain in place – and local councils are still expected to use the method when planning for new homes unless there are exceptional circumstances to justify an alternative approach.
The revised National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that local authorities should continue to identify the minimum number of homes needed for their communities when preparing local plans for examination. Alternative approaches used to assess housing needs must be based on robust evidence and this will be carefully scrutinised by the Planning Inspectorate.
Government housing targets have not changed. We remain on track to fulfil our manifesto commitment to deliver 1 million homes in this Parliament – this is backed by £10 billion investment in projects to increase housing supply across the country.
Through our Levelling Up and Regeneration Act, we are bringing forward numerous measures to speed up the planning system and our long-term plan for housing will go further to ensure we meet our ambition to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.
The Housing Secretary Michael Gove reinforced this message in his planning speech last December:
The new National Planning Policy Framework confirms that the standard method of assessing housing need – the statistical model which projects our requirement for future housing based on population growth and affordability criteria – remains the basis on which communities should plan for new homes.
Local authorities must provide rigorous evidence justifying their departure from assessed housing need, they must do everything to identify other land suitable for development, and while the Planning Inspectorate will respect well-made cases, it will not accept under-shooting that is not firmly rooted in environmental or other safeguards. This is about sensitive adjustment in meeting targets, not their abandonment.