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24th Jun, 2022

Alarm sounded over 'planning by algorithm' proposals

THE proposed new housing formula or ‘algorithm’ from the government will fail to deliver the affordable new homes that communities desperately need says the Campaign for Rural England.

Instead, it says, it will allow developers to put hundreds of thousands of poorly located new homes in the countryside, destroy locally valued green space and completely undermine the Government’s alleged ambitions for urban regeneration.

The warning comes as controversy rages over Solihull’s Local Plan to 2036 which will see some 15,000 new homes built in the borough, many of which are likely to be built under the new formula if it becomes law.

The government is currently consulting on the largest overhaul of the planning system in over 70 years. Central to this will be changes to the formula that determines local housing need, or housing algorithm, which was introduced in 2014.

CPRE analysis has found that the housing algorithm completely misses the mark, delivering huge increases compared to the current formula in rural areas like Cumbria (178 per cent increase) and Cotswold district (148 per cent ) with decreases in nearby urban areas of Manchester (-37 per cent ), Leicester (-35 per cent ) and Gloucester (-12per cent ).

CPRE claims the new algorithm could deepen the housing crisis by delivering more unaffordable homes in areas based on higher housing prices and not genuine need.

Under the new housing algorithm, areas with the sharpest house price rises since the 2009 recession would get the highest number of new homes.

CPRE believes this would only deliver bigger profits for developers at the expense of building homes in areas where people can afford to live.

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, said: “We are in the midst of a housing crisis and need to deliver many more well designed, genuinely affordable homes in the right places, including in rural areas.

“To begin delivering the homes we need at the pace we need them, the government should abandon centralised housing targets and ensure planning remains locally-led with local authorities and communities empowered to have a say in what gets built where.

“It’s clear that governing by algorithm doesn’t work but the problems with the government’s planning proposals don’t end there. What we need is a major rethink and careful, sensible reform to create a planning system that delivers genuinely affordable homes, protects locally valued green space and countryside, while boosting trust and participation in the planning system of the future.”

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