The lack of any mention of housing in the recent Budget was as clear an indicator as any that it is up to the housebuilding sector to come up with its own solutions to work towards fixing the housing crisis. 

Geeta Nanda

Geeta Nanda

So, let’s start by pursuing a planning policy that is fit for purpose. Across the housing sector, there is concern about proposed changes to the national planning policy framework and the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill. Many have warned that, combined with other measures, this will have a detrimental impact on our ability to deliver the housing tenures so many in our society currently need.

Under the proposed changes, where a local authority’s housing requirements, as set out in their strategic policies, are less than five years old, they will no longer be required to continually demonstrate a deliverable five-year housing land supply.

Alongside measures contained in the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill, such as the watering down of housing targets and the replacement of Section 106 contributions with a new infrastructure levy over the next 10 years, the sector faces a perfect storm.

The continual demonstration of five-year housing land supply is a key component of long-term planning and confidence in the sector. It is how we identify sites for new housing, helping to instil confidence in the viability of future plans. It also supports better placemaking through local plans, giving communities a say and confidence about the future.

Without this certainty, long-term planning will inevitably be damaged and less social and affordable housing will be built. This is at odds with the government’s own aims, stated in the Levelling Up White Paper, of increasing “the amount of social housing available over time to provide the most affordable housing to those who need it”.


The contribution we make to social- and affordable-housing supply is vital and will continue to be as we look to resolve our nation’s housing crisis.

Analysis from planning consultancy Lichfields has exposed the extent of the potential impact of proposed planning changes to housing supply. It estimates that 77,000 fewer new homes will be completed each year, cutting overall supply to half of the government’s 300,000-per-year target.

With 1.2m people on social-housing waiting lists in 2022, the notion of an affordable, secure home feels ever-further from reach for a growing number of people. Without a suitable planning system, these homes will never be built, and our housing crisis will continue to be a matter of much public discourse, but the action required to resolve it will remain absent.

The first step for the government would be to listen to the concerns of the sector following the consultation. Maintaining the status of housing targets and the requirement of local authorities to continually demonstrate a five-year housing land supply are key.

The second step is to talk to us about Section 106 contributions. In a recent open letter to the secretary of state, the G15 group, comprising London’s leading housing associations, made it clear that, though imperfect, Section 106 payments have made a significant contribution to new housing supply, especially social and affordable homes. In 2021/22, they accounted for 47.3% of all affordable homes built, or 12% of all new homes, with 78% of all Section 106 funds spent on affordable housing in 2020 alone.

Any new system must be a demonstrable improvement. We are not confident that the proposed infrastructure levy can do this.

Alongside securing affordable housing contributions through the planning system, housing associations are also doing all we can to continue direct development of homes. The contribution we make to social- and affordable-housing supply is vital and will continue to be as we look to resolve our nation’s housing crisis.

In 2021/22, the G15 group completed 11,527 new homes and began building a further 10,605, 85% of which were affordable. Housing associations have built almost a quarter of all new homes in the past five years.

Yet we need to go further. Many challenges lie ahead in tackling the UK’s housing crisis. To this end, we are proposing practical measures to support providers to meet these challenges.

Our proposals include setting tenure-specific targets through the standard method, stipulating that a set percentage of homes for social rent be delivered in major developments and placing greater emphasis on local authorities to assess and cater for the size, type and tenure of housing required in their communities. Local authorities should also allocate suitable sites for affordable housing by selling surplus public-sector land.

In addition to these proposals, we call on the government to provide greater levels of social homes in lieu of first homes or other tenures to support providers delivering 100% affordable schemes.

Ensuring that national planning policy takes account of the need for long-term certainty will represent a vital step in helping to secure the social and affordable housing that communities so desperately need.

Geeta Nanda is chief executive of Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing