University expertise contributes to shift in Government housing policy

Researchers from the University are lead authors of a new report which provided evidence to support a change in Government approach to housing and planning policy.

This week, on 5 March 2018, the Prime Minister outlined a range of significant policy changes designed to encourage greater, more rapid house building, at a speech to the national planning conference.

A 160 page report `The Incidence, Value and Delivery of Planning Obligations and Community Infrastructure Levy in England in 2016-17’  published on the morning of the speech provided the underlying intelligence to this change in policy.

The report was produced by an academic consortium, led by the University of Liverpool, and including researchers from Cambridge, London School of Economics, Oxford and Sheffield universities.

Commenting on the report, and its impact on the Government’s changes in policy towards housing and planning, the principal investigator for the project, Professor Alex Lord from the University’s Department of Geography & Planning, said:

“The report represents a huge, mixed methods piece of work that provides the first valuation of planning obligations -the mechanism through which so much affordable housing is provided – in a decade.

“The finding of our report illustrates the significance of planning obligations at £6bn – but, crucially, also notes that the geography of where these planning obligations are generated and spent is hugely variable an issue that has recently been investigated by the Guardian.

“In her speech the PM addressed the development industry directly asking them to fulfil a “patriotic duty” to provide more ‘affordable housing’ to address a national housing crisis about which some people feel, according to the PM, justifiably angry.

“Theresa May’s intervention is significant for two reasons.  First, it signals another wave of planning reform.  The recent history of planning policy in England (planning is a devolved function) is characterised by repeated moments of systemic reforms, usually with the underlying goal of making development more rapid and encouraging an increase in housing supply.

“Second, it marks a stark shift in tone from No. 10.  Rather than castigating planning as a regulatory burden and a barrier to development the PM chose to look at the development industry and question the degree to which the rate of development and the proportion of new housing that is affordable was sufficient.

“In announcing the substantive changes to policy, more not less regulation was promised including a minimum 10% of new development to be affordable housing and adjustments in the rules for planning consent being guided by local assessments of housing need not just demand.

“It is interesting to see the effect that our work has had.  This type of impact on policy is rare and we are really heartened to see that the nature of the planning reforms introduced today are designed to affect the development process by empowering planning to play a really significant role in associating housing need at the local level with what planning obligations policy can achieve at this geographic scale”.

Report co-author, Dr Richard Dunning also with the University’s Department of Geography and Planning , added: “Both local planning authorities and developers have been calling for additional support for planning for some time, it is excellent news that the Prime Minister has highlighted the need for planning in securing affordable and high quality housing”.

This project was supported by the University’s Consultancy Team to find out more, please visit:



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