Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Census emphasises growing housing needs

The scale of the challenge facing both housebuilders and local authorities in planning for future housing needs is evident from recently published research – and will inevitably lead to conflict within communities.

The England and Wales 2011 Census – which analyses household space, household size, housing tenure, usual residents and children living in households – makes fascinating reading for those interested in housebuilding.

It confirms what we all know – the UK population is growing and with it the demand for housing is continuing to rise.

In the 2011 census, the key facts were:

· 23.4 million households in England and Wales – a 7.9% rise from 2001 (21.7m).

· 55.1m people living in households – a 7.8% rise from 2001 (51.1m).

· The average household size in 2011 in England was 2.36 people and in Wales 2.31 – stable over the last three decades.

· Households with six or more people rose 25% between 2001 and 2011. At 3.9% London had the highest proportion of households with six or more people, and saw the largest proportional increase between at almost 50%.

· In terms of tenure, 18% of all occupied household spaces were privately rented, an increase from 12% in 2001, while owner occupation fell from 69% to 65% during the same period.

· As for the make up of households, 47% (25.6m) of household included dependent children, down slightly on 2011. The number of adults living in households with dependent children was 13.5m; this was 31% of all adults living in households. This compares to 12.6m (32%) in 2001.

With the number of households on the increase, the inevitable question will be asked: Where are we going to build all the houses that are needed? And worryingly for planning authorities, research by the Local Government Association (LGA) found the majority of councils are unable to answer the question. 

Research by the LGA’s Planning Advisory Service found only 54% of authorities had a five-year housing land supply – a critical requirement of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The inability to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply seriously weakens an authority’s objection to a residential planning application. In effect the relevant policies in their local plan are not considered up to date, decisions are liable to challenge and the NPPF’s ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ is used to determine applications at appeal.

Across the South East, the survey showed that of 62 authorities who responded, 32 said they had 5 year supply, 18 accepted that they didn't have the necessary land supply, worryingly 11 didn't know – the highest of any region in the country.

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