Introduction

The planning system is not delivering the level of affordable homes that we need. Planning has been one of the key tools for delivering social and affordable housing - but there has been a dramatic decline in the amount of affordable homes being secured through planning. There are examples of some councils bucking this trend and using planning as a proactive force to deliver affordable homes, but these cases are in the minority.

In response, the TCPA has begun a new, 18-month project supported by the Nationwide Foundation to transfer innovative approaches being taken to deliver affordable housing through planning. This builds on a recently completed TCPA project, ‘How can councils secure the delivery of more affordable homes? New models, partnerships and innovation’, which engaged with over 130 different councils across England about the challenges and opportunities in delivering affordable housing.

Planning for affordable housing

Research by the TCPA for the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) in May 2017 found that:

  • 65% of councils say that most of their social and affordable housing is delivered through the planning system via planning obligations known as section 106 agreements.
  • However, the National Planning Policy Framework viability test is shown to be undermining the delivery of affordable housing; 61% of councils say that it is hindering their ability to secure sufficient social and affordable homes to meet local need.

The TCPA has identified instances where councils are using their planning powers effectively to secure mixed-tenure homes and improve the supply of affordable housing. The purpose of this new project is to assess the achievements of these and to learn about how these can be transferred to other councils, as well as to identify further examples of innovation.

Getting involved

The research underway will form the basis of a report with recommendations to government on how planning can secure high quality affordable housing, to be launched in parliament in summer 2018. Following this, guidance (to be published in late 2018) and training (in early 2019) will be developed for councils about how they can make the most of their planning powers to secure higher levels of affordable homes. 

The TCPA is keen to hear examples of councils taking forward innovative approaches to delivering social and affordable housing through the planning system. If you would like to put forward a case study or are interested in the project please contact Henry Smith, Projects and Policy Manager at [email protected] for more details. 

Supported by:


Picture credit

Architect: Peter Barber Architects

Photographer: Morley von Sternberg