Following cuts to capital grant and financial restrictions on councils, we now rely on private developers to deliver a large share of new affordable homes. But since 2012, national planning rules have blunted this tool by enabling the widespread use and abuse of viability assessments. Shropshire Council's Core Strategy of 2011 originally planned for 30% affordable housing but after the 2008 financial crash this was reduced to regional figures of 10% - 20%, again by reference to a county-wide viability assessment.
CPRE Shropshire recognises that not all development is bad and the right houses in the right place are needed for our increasing population. We need to make sure that there are affordable houses being built for local people as well as developments of larger homes.
Shropshire Council have not achieved their targets for providing affordable houses either as a percentage of overall development or within their own building programme. We recognise the reduced funding which local authorities and housing associations receive from Central Government for Affordable Housing and accept that this is a national problem which our National Office are working on. We also need good design for village developments in keeping with the rest of the built environment.
Shropshire Council now has its own housing company, Cornovii Developments Ltd, to build houses itself, but even so the majority are not affordable.
The new Shropshire Draft Plan sets a target of 25% (7,700 out of 30,800) for affordable housing, against an achievement of only 14% in the last two years reported, a Homepoint waiting list of over 6,500 and an evidenced need for 17,574 affordable houses, or 799 a year. Rural counties like Shropshire are not helped by the fact that developments of less than ten houses do not have to provide any affordable housing.
Who is it who benefits from all these new houses being built? Shropshire Council's best, somewhat anecdotal answer is that one-third of all new housing is bought by affluent down-sizers from outside Shropshire.
Updated October 2021