Councils at odds on home target policy

The abolition of regional spatial strategies (RSSs) has led to widespread confusion among local authorities over what housing targets to set, according to research.

A study across the Midlands and the north by the Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) reveals that councils are struggling to understand the nature and scope of their new responsibilities as well as the timetable and process.

Thirty-eight per cent of East Midlands councils intend to keep housing targets set out in the RSS, while 71 per cent will keep regional targets for Gypsy and traveller sites.

Elsewhere in the north and the Midlands, 48 per cent of authorities are keeping RSS housing targets, 30 per cent are undecided and 13 per cent will adopt a new target.

Authorities are also confused over whether option one figures - defined by the DCLG as the number of homes councils believe are needed up to 2026 - refer to their own technical work or the first draft of RSSs.

The situation is compounded by the scrapping of the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit and the demise of regional leaders' boards, which BSHF maintained threaten a serious lack of expertise and capacity to monitor the major policy changes proposed.

BSHF head of programme Jim Vine urged the government to require authorities to publicly register their housing targets or timetable for revision. "We recommend that the target from the RSS be made the explicit default in every area that has not formally adopted an alternative," he added.

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