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Planning Portal – Report questions household projections

The Planning Portal writes:

New research suggests that English councils could be underestimating housing need by up to 30 per cent in some cases because of an overreliance on official household projection data, according to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

That’s the key finding of a study commissioned by the RTPI from the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Housing and Planning Research.

The projections, compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for Government, are the basis for calculating housing need in councils’ local development plans.

The academics examined the figures and argued that in some cases the projections don’t reflect likely local household need.

The study highlighted current concern over how far planning authorities can treat the projections as a starting point which can be varied according to robust local evidence.

The report also highlighted the difficulties of producing a robust evidence base that will be accepted by the Planning Inspectorate when it examines local plans.

The RTPI president said: “The research emphasises the need for local councils to treat Government household projections as a starting point, not an end point when calculating how much housing they need to plan for in their area.

“A rigid adherence to household projection figures may lead to too few houses being built in some areas and an oversupply in others.”

The RTPI has urged the Government to provide sensitivity analysis at the local authority level so that users can gauge the amount of uncertainty they need to plan for, and to publish in an easily accessible form data showing how the projections for key drivers of change – birth, deaths and flows into and out of a local authority – relate to what has happened in the recent past.

Planning Minister Nick Boles has insisted that the ONS projections should be treated as a starting point for local housing market assessments and not as holy writ.

During a recent debate in the Commons he said that the projections could be critiqued. “It is absolutely open to authorities to do that, but their numbers must be based on evidence; they cannot be based on assertion alone,” he said.

Read the RTPI news release.

via Planning Portal - Report questions household projections.

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