Boost to Haringey homebuilding numbersImprovement to delivery but targets still not being met
Haringey Council has had its full planning powers restored following a boost to the number of homes built in the borough.
The council reached 75% of its target for the delivery of new homes during the past three years after the government reduced the requirement to take account of the national Covid-19 lockdowns.
It means the civic centre no longer has to apply a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”, an added incentive to approve new housing schemes, and can now give full weight to its own planning policies during decision-making.
The council had its planning powers curbed last year after meeting only 60% of the target set by the government’s housing delivery test. It came after 2,636 homes were delivered by all developers during the previous three years.
A report presented to the overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Monday revealed 3,005 homes were completed in the three years to March 2021. Although this was only two-thirds of the target, it met the 75% threshold after adjusting for the lockdown impact.
Despite the improved performance Pippa Connor, the Liberal Democrat vice-chair of the committee, raised concerns over the figures. She told the committee: “If we fall below [the threshold] through no fault of our own, because costs are going up or we can’t get construction workers on site, we are in danger of going back into the presumption in favour of sustainable development.”
Claire McCarthy, the council’s assistant director of strategy, communications and collaboration, acknowledged there were “a number of factors” affecting the economy and construction industry, such as inflation, that could have an impact on future housing delivery.
Matt White, a Labour committee member, said that although the council had “some control” over planning consents, he did not know what it could do to encourage developers to start on site and complete development.
He added: “I know the government is judging us on these things we cannot control through the housing delivery test, but it seems a little masochistic for the council to be applying that same unfair test to itself in its own performance update.”
Claire responded that the metrics had been put in place in 2018/19 and acknowledged that the council’s influence was “limited” in some areas. She added that the council was keen to have a set of metrics that were “meaningful” and that “tell a story of the impact that the council’s activity and investment is having”.
The report also reveals that since 2019 work has begun on 1,402 new council homes, with 173 completed. It adds that Covid-19 and Brexit have presented “major ongoing challenges” to the housing programme.