• Helen Winkler

Changes to Assessing Housing Need?

Less than 12 months ago the Government added a 35% uplift to the standard method of assessing housing need for England's 20 largest urban areas, including Birmingham. This week a report produced by the Building Back Britain Commission, ‘Levelling Up and the Housing Challenge’, suggests even greater numbers of new house building should be concentrated in some of the same urban areas.

The report hypothesises that the Government’s ambitious plans for levelling up the UK economy will create significant demand for additional housing in the areas regarded as a priority for Levelling Up. The report suggests greater levels of house building should be concentrated in the first instance, in the 93 English local authorities within the ‘category 1' priority areas in the government’s Levelling Up Fund prospectus. These are mainly in the north and the midlands, including Birmingham, with some areas in the south west and south east.

If the existing standard method for assessing housing need is not changed to reflect the Levelling Up agenda, the report suggests there would be an annual shortfall of up to 67,000 homes in those areas identified by the Government in most need of Levelling Up. The report estimates that ​​Birmingham would require the largest increase in new homes from 4,829 dwellings per annum (dpa) to 12,430 dpa under a scenario based on future growth. The authors foresee reduced pressure for new homes in areas that are already economically developed.

The report calls for a ‘new national housing strategy’ based on ‘future demand’. A formal response to the report’s recommendations is awaited from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), but unconfirmed reports suggest Michael Gove may support the re-think.