The Planning Officers Society (POS), in its recent submission of evidence to the House of Commons Committee of Inquiry into affordability and the supply of housing, maintains that
all assume that increased housing supply should be the main policy instrument to address affordability problems, and this increase can be delivered through the planning system. “We believe that an approach based on increasing supply at any cost is misplaced,” says Geoff Cross, the Joint Convenor of the POS Housing Task Group.
The POS submit that it is the decrease in publicly subsidised housing, which has led to the reduction in supply not inherent limitations in the planning system. Private house building has remained at approximately the same level over this period. “We believe that the importance of financial and fiscal measures is underestimated in the Barker Review and the Treasury and ODPM’s subsequent thinking. Private house building has not been able to increase to compensate for the loss of public sector housing with an inevitable shortfall in overall supply” said Cross.
The Society says the short, medium and long term consequences of the inability of households to enter the housing market are manifesting themselves in various parts of the country with economic as well as social consequences. In seeking to develop its policies for affordability the Government will need to address how resources can be made to stimulate equity share, discounted first time purchasers’ housing, and other intermediate housing to replace the 150,000 dwellings per annum provided by the public sector until the 1970’s.
Gill Gowing, the other Joint Convenor of the POS Housing Task Group, added “Additional policy levers are needed to maximise the contribution land supply makes to directly resolving the needs of those currently unable to enter the housing market or find rented accommodation.”