13,000 homes were built by local authorities in England in 2017-2018, the highest number since 1990, according to a survey of councils by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).
However, of these only 42% were classed as ‘affordable’ homes and just 23% were social.
Government figures suggest that the previous high for local authority housebuilding was 14,020 homes in 1990.
The RTPI study also found that much of this building activity has been delivered through companies wholly or jointly owned by councils, with 78% of local authorities now owning a housing or property company.
However, the report warns that relying on the private sector to progress applications through the planning system alone will not ‘deliver against the full range of society’s housing needs’ in a particular council area.
It also says government policies for housing and planning ‘seem to pull in different directions.’
The report recommends that local authorities should bring together housing and planning into a housing delivery team to manage the implementation of all housing schemes and they should establish a housing delivery board to monitor progress and delivery.
Paul Dennett, Salford City Mayor, who helped to launch the report, said: ‘We welcome this exciting new research from RTPI which shows how local authorities like our own are delivering new homes to try and meet local needs.
‘We have realised that it is not enough to wait for the market to deliver the homes we need to tackle homelessness, rough-sleeping and the UK’s broken housing market.
‘We are using the opportunities we have as a city council to deliver more truly affordable housing. Now we need more powers and resources, especially given our infrastructure and post-industrial land challenges to help us develop a new range of targeted interventions.’
In related news, research from the National Housing Federation reveals that the government must invest £12.8bn a year to finally end the housing crisis in England.
Over ten years, this investment would kick start a nationwide housebuilding programme of around 1.45 million social homes to rent and shared ownership properties to buy across the country.
They also say It would stimulate the economy and help more buyers to get on the housing ladder, all while ensuring that millions of people no longer get stuck in inappropriate homes or on the streets.
John Healey, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, said the report must be a ‘wake up call’ for Ministers.
‘It confirms the catastrophic fall in social housebuilding since 2010 and shows the scale of the country’s housing crisis,’ he said.