The Building Back Better Commission – a self appointed and self interested group of North of England based Housebuilders have issued a rather good report.
A bit of background. Many times on this blog we have reported on the perverse results of a purely housing led and projecting trends based standard method, when in growth areas you need a jobs led projecting plans based forward looking method. A good example being the inconsistency of PINs at Local Plans LPIs, allowing jobs led at Doncaster but not at Darlington. Is one a growth area in need of levelling up and the other not? The reasons is the useless fudginess of NPPG saying growth areas can be an exceptional circumstance but not defining where growth areas are. Since when was growth and levelling up the exception rather than the rule?
I wont go through the commission’s method, which is based on extra homes needed to fill extra jobs, and the internal net migration needed to fill those jobs.
Lets look at the result:
To get to a levelled-up world under this scenario over 30 years, Birmingham would need 12,430 net additions per annum, compared to only 4,829 per annum under the standard method, or an additional 7,600 homes per annum. Next is Manchester, followed by Bradford, Liverpool, County Durham and Barking & Dagenham in London. Again, this is not saying that building this number of homes would deliver levelling up, it is saying that levelling up in the manner described would necessitate this number of homes being built.
Thats 372,000 houses additional for Brum over 30 years, the Size of Milton Keynes, for a city where an inspector has found its need cannot be met without Green Belt Loss.
So for local groups on the edge of Margate, Reigate, Tonbridge Wells or wherever saying ‘why cant this growth go to levelling up areas’?, well it maybe should be the housing has to go somewhere and of those top 6 areas only Liverpool has additional brownfield capacity, over and above the ridiculously backfired urban uplift (no single policy change ever has led to such an acceleration of proposed Green Belt loss). So what they are saying in ‘northern oiks, stay up north and don’t build in the Surrey and Kent Green Belt but in the Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and Brum Green Belts’.
Seeing an opening from a naïve new SoS keen to grasp any straw from revolting Nimby Constituencies that looks levelling up the BBC members must think ‘keerching’ we finally can get those optioned Green Belt Sites outside the South East released.
Planning is hard. People migrating to a job must come from somewhere. Because the standard method is not a standard model (and by definition therefore becomes a mathematically inconsonant mispecified model); we need a standard model based on mathematically consistent (in accounting terms where losses and gains balance) economic growth scenarios by region (its how the Irish do it), and the per LPA numbers should return back to strategic planning per functional economic region. A clumsy fudged spreadsheet just cant cut it.