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Home building in Yorkshire & The Humber: Getting the full benefits?
The Home Builders Federation (HBF) recently published a series of regional reports highlighting the economic footprint of home building. These reports were based on research carried out by Lichfields at a national level on behalf of the HBF on the economic footprint of home building in England and Wales[1], which looked at a wide and comprehensive range of economic, social and environmental benefits that house building generates. For Yorkshire & the Humber, the results clearly demonstrated the huge contribution house building is making to the Yorkshire & the Humber economy[2]. However, as well as clearly illustrating the importance of house building to Yorkshire & the Humber’s economy, the findings also served to highlight the opportunities missed from failing to meet minimum housing requirements in some local planning authority (“LPA”) areas. Benefits Delivered The regional HBF report used the national level analysis provided by Lichfields and applied this to the total number of homes delivered in Yorkshire & the Humber during 2017-18. This indicated that in Yorkshire & the Humber in 2017-18, house building was responsible for: According to the 2018 Housing Delivery Test (“HDT”) results[3], 19,559 new homes were delivered in Yorkshire & the Humber in 2017-18 – generating the significant economic benefits listed above. However, a number of LPAs in Yorkshire and the Humber did not meet their minimum housing requirement for the monitoring period 2015-16 to 2017-18, and consequently five LPAs were required to produce Action Plans by August of this year. Additionally, four of these five LPAs must apply a 20% to their five year housing land requirements as result of delivering less than 85% of their housing land requirements. The actions being undertaken by these authorities to address the shortfall is perhaps the subject of a separate blog, however it is interesting to consider the benefits that have been missed as a result of this under delivery. Figure 1 Yorkshire and the Humber 2018 HDT results Source: MHCLG Opportunities Missed The combined shortfall of those Yorkshire and the Humber authorities that have failed the HDT for 2015-16 to 2017-18 amounted to 4,796 homes. Setting aside that these are homes that are desperately required to meet a wide range of housing needs, there is also a clear economic opportunity cost. Using the same methodology as used by the HBF in its recent publication, we have calculated the economic benefits which have been missed as a result of these authorities failing to meet their housing needs over the past three years. Had these LPAs met their minimum housing requirements for the period 2015-16 to 2017-18, it would have resulted in: This high-level analysis clearly demonstrates that failure to meet local housing requirements not only affects those in need of new housing, but also impacts on significantly on the wider economy. It should be noted that these figures have been derived using the same national level indices as were used to inform the HBF outputs. They do not therefore reflect regional variations in key metrics or the businesses models of individual housebuilders. Lichfields’ Evaluate model offers the functionality to take account of these nuances to provide more detailed, locally-specific economic assessment and potentially demonstrate greater economic outputs. Wider Benefits Of course, the benefits of home building are not purely economic. In additional to playing a vital role in supporting the economy, the home building industry generates a number of social benefits, including supporting positive health and educational outcomes, employment and training opportunities for young people, independent living and regeneration. Research undertaken by Lichfields on behalf of Homes for Scotland[4] demonstrated the benefits that new home building can have on people’s health and on improving educational attainment and skills. A report from the Department of Health has previously suggested that it costs the NHS across the UK £859 million a year to treat illnesses caused by cold private housing[5]. The delivery of new homes can play a significant role in addressing health issues associated within inadequate housing by providing homes which are well insulated, energy efficient and are designed to protect against damp, cold conditions. Additionally, research by Shelter has shown that the quality of a child’s housing – in isolation of other factors – has a direct link to educational attainment, likelihood of unemployment and poverty[6]. The delivery of new housing is therefore central to achieving improvements in childhood health and educational attainment, and failure to meet minimum housing requirements could impact young people’s life chances in terms of educational development. How Lichfields can help Lichfields’ Evaluate framework strengthens the economic justification for a development strategy or individual project by considering the full range of local benefits – including economic and social impacts. Evaluate is now regularly used by many of the UK’s leading developers, investors and house-builders to measure the economic benefits of their development and infrastructure proposals across a range of sectors and to communicate these to local and national audiences. The clear presentation of economic and social benefits arising from housing development can provide robust justification for a proposal and act as a persuasive platform to encourage positive engagement and decision making. In the Yorkshire and Humber region, Lichfields is presently preparing an Economic Benefits Assessment of the East Leeds Extension on behalf of a consortium of house builders. In addition to location or development specific assessments, Lichfields has an expanding track record in undertaking development industry or group-wide Economic Footprint assessments to measure the economic impact of corporate activities, such as was undertaken on behalf of the HBF. Similar exercises have been produced for Homes for Scotland and a number of major volume house builders, measuring an organisation’s socio-economic footprint across indicators such as employment, economic output, supply chain expenditure, local community financial benefits, tax revenue and development of social infrastructure. Whilst housing delivery is now being monitored with greater consistency through the HDT, it is important to recognise the wider socio-economic benefits which house building generates, and also recognise the socio-economic opportunities which are missed though failing to meet local housing need.   [1] The Economic Footprint of House Building in England and Wales [2] Yorkshire & The Humber economic footprint of Home Building[3] HDT_2018_measurments[4] The Economic and Social Benefits of Home Building in Scotland[5] Department of Health, (2009), Annual Report of Chief Medical Officers Report[6] pdf_file/0016/39202/Chance_of_a_Lifetime.pdf  


Designs on Grand Designs – how realistic is self-build for boosting housing supply?
For many people, the constraints or design of their homes will at some point have led them to think that they might have done a better job if they had designed and built their homes themselves from scratch. As set out in the Housing White Paper, the government is looking to tap into this mind-set as a way of diversifying housing delivery streams and helping boost supply. But how much of an impact will this method of housing delivery have in the context of a national housing shortage, especially when the Housing White Paper itself states that the ‘broken housing market’ is particularly affecting ordinary working people who are struggling to get by? Access to available land and securing finance to fund the construction of a new home are two of the main barriers fledgling self-builders face. Since April 2016, local authorities in England have been required to maintain a list of people and groups interested in building their own home in their area under the ‘Right to Build’ provisions of the Self and Custom Build Housing Act 2015 (as amended by the Housing and Planning Act 2016). Some local authorities are now seeking to introduce self-build policies into their Local Plans as a way of enabling the delivery of more self-build homes. The Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) states that relevant authorities should consider how they can best support self-build and custom housebuilding in their area, including developing policies in their Local Plan for self-build and custom housebuilding (Paragraph: 025 Reference ID: 57-025-201760728). Harrogate Borough Council recently consulted on a draft self-build policy which proposed that, on sites of 20 dwellings or more, developers will be required to supply at least 5% of dwelling plots for sale to self-builders, subject to ‘appropriate demand’ being identified. The Council is proposing to consult on this draft policy again in January 2018 (it may be in a revised form by then), but whether it has been amended in response to consultation or not, will it really result in a step change in housing delivery? A letter sent out to stakeholders in June 2017 stated that there were 164 individuals listed on the Harrogate Borough Council Self Build Register who had expressed an interest in self-build. Applying the policy to the draft allocations set out within the emerging Harrogate Local Plan, the terms of the policy as currently drafted would result in the delivery of just under 250 dwellings. The draft policy does allow for some flexibility based on ‘appropriate demand’ being identified and self-build plots being sold within 12 months, but this type of policy is only dealing with one side of the coin – diversifying supply. The policy may not actually result in a boost to supply in terms of totals, as the number of homes which will have been delivered on the site is likely to remain the same. There are a number of potential pitfalls with policies which require minimum proportions of development sites to be reserved for self-build plots, despite their positive intentions: How can it be credibly confirmed whether there is viable demand? Do all 164 people in Harrogate actually want to go ahead with a self-build? When could (and should) self-build plots form part of on-site affordable housing provision? Will planning applications take longer to determine while developers and local authorities decide whether there is a need for reserved self-build plots on a particular site? Such policies could potentially lead to a reduction in overall housing delivery, or at least the rate of delivery (albeit this is likely to have a limited effect), and at a time of a national housing shortage this could go against the main thrust of the National Planning Policy Framework and Housing White Paper. The most appropriate method of facilitating and boosting the delivery of self-build homes is of course not only being grappled with in Harrogate, but is being explored by local authorities across Yorkshire and the rest of the country. The National Custom and Self Build Association’s (NaCSBA) portal for Right to Build states that there are 118 people registered on the Leeds database, out of a population of 774,100. Teignbridge has adopted a ‘Custom and Self Build Supplementary Planning Document’ which contains a 5% requirement on sites of 20 dwellings or more. According to research by the Planning Advisory Service, Teignbridge has around 280 people on its register. Promoters of self-build cite a number of studies and opinion polls which can suggest there is a considerable demand for self-build (the NaCSBA argues that 53% of the UK population would like to build or commission their own home at some time in their lives) and if these figures were realised, it could make a significant contribution towards housing delivery. There is a potential danger, however, that some people who express an interest in self-build may not ever - for a whole host of reasons - take this forward and deliver their own home. There is a very big difference between being interested in self-build, and actually having the means, be this for financial reasons, lack of knowledge/skills, or the time and commitment to deliver what could be a very demanding project to implement. It is also possible for people to sign up to more than one register, which can further skew the figures. What is clear, however, is that England and the UK lag behind the rest of Europe in the proportion of new homes which are self-built. A recent report by AMA Research found that self build completions in the UK have declined in recent years, and the UK continues to have one of the lowest rates of self building - around 10% of new private sector house-building, compared to countries such as Austria, Belgium, Italy and Sweden where self build rates are between 67-83%[1]. As previous Lichfields blogs[2] have discussed, the UK Government could take inspiration from the Netherlands, where whole new settlements are created comprised entirely of self-build homes. These are often delivered in partnership by city councils and housing associations on publicly owned land. Indeed, this model being implemented at Graven Hill in Bicester, which will be the largest self and custom build development in the UK, and has come about through Cherwell District Council’s acquisition of a former Ministry of Defence site. The development will deliver around 1,900 self and custom build homes. Aiming to increase the amount of self-build homes in the UK is certainly something which should be encouraged, both to diversify the supply chain and improve design, but policies which target the volume housebuilder sector may need to be approached with caution. The national housing shortage is real and acute, and volume housebuilders have the capability to deliver homes quickly and at a large scale. The amount of self-build plots which can be delivered on private developer-led sites is always going to be relatively small, and it will therefore be important for local authorities to look for other opportunities to bring self-build to more people, as well as those looking to create the next Grand Design.   [1] [2] and Image credit: Dan-Wood