Midlands housing provider seeks ambitious planning reforms

Call for affordable homes schemes to cover Midlands.

Leading housing association Midland Heart is urging Government to be more ambitious in reforms to the national planning policy known as the National Planning Policy Framework.

Midland Heart, which has 33,000 homes across the region, is calling for the new policy to support its mission to tackle the shortage of quality affordable homes across the Midlands.

Joe Reeves, Executive Director of Growth and Corporate Affairs and responsible for Midland Heart’s new housing developments, said: “We support efforts to speed up the planning process and unlock more homes but the Government tends to think about housing affordability from the perspective of housing markets in the South East, where the shortage of affordable homes is most acute.”

He added, “We understand the reasons for this, but we need a planning system that will help us to deliver more affordable homes in the West Midlands too. Consultation on the proposed revision of the National Planning Policy Framework has just closed and we are questioning whether the reforms are bold enough on affordability. Over the next five years we will be investing £450 million in delivering new affordable homes across the West Midlands region, with ambitious plans to deliver almost 600 homes each year.

“We are also working with other housing associations in the West Midlands Housing Association Partnership and with the West Midlands Combined Authority to see how, together, we can deliver even more affordable homes but we need planning policies that match our ambition and drive.”

He explained that in its response to the government, Midland Heart recommended a number of changes, including:

– A set target for homes that are affordable to rent on major developments
– A housing need assessment model that takes into account the impact of employment growth on housing demand – an increasingly critical issue for the Midlands as HS2 and UK Central grow nearer.

The NPPF sets out policies for England and how they should be applied at a local level. All new developments must comply with both national policy and locally agreed plans. The reforms aim to ensure local authorities deliver a sufficient supply of new homes and include a new housing delivery test which can be used as a sanction against authorities failing to do enough to support new housing. They also include a standardised method for assessing housing need to ensure consistency across the country.

The Government is expected to publish its final recommendations in July.