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Experts critique housing need assessment proposals

Published: Thursday, 12th May 2016

Report offers alternative method to measuring housing need…

Leading planners, economic forecasters and demographers have criticised the proposals on measuring housing need which the Local Plan Expert Group (LPEG) have recommended should be incorporated in revised Planning Practice Guidance.

They have claimed that LPEG’s recommendations have “disastrous technical faults” and have warned that the proposals “would delay and complicate plan-making even more than the present system. They would put need in the wrong places, so the most popular places may still be undersupplied, while too much land is allocated in places with weak demand, putting viability at risk.”

That is at the heart of a submission to the current consultation on the expert group’s report produced by Neil McDonald of NMSS, Cristina Howick of Peter Brett Associates (PBA) and Professor Ludi Simpson of the University of Manchester.

McDonald is an independent consultant, previously a director at the Department for Communities and Local Government and Chief Executive at the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit (NHPAU). Howick wrote the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) technical advice note on housing needs and housing targets. Simpson is the founder and designer of the planning industry standard demographic software POPGROUP and has advised government and other bodies on demography for over 30 years.

Other contributors include Piers Elias and John Hollis of the British Society of Population Studies, Sunil Joshi of Experian Economics and a number of senior local government planners.

As well as criticising the methodology of the LPEG’s proposals the submission has proposed an alternative approach which is claimed to be as simple as LPEG’s solution but more robust.

This would involve establishing a ‘demographic starting point’ which took account of projected internal migration (domestic and international) in the most recent 10-year period for which data is available. It would also rely on fewer and recalibrated market signal indicators and adjustments.

The submission claimed that if the LPEG method of assessing housing need was used some 162 authorities would have to more than double their recent delivery, 72 authorities would have to more than triple it and 34 authorities would have to more than quadruple it.

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Roger Milne