Housing Ministry ordered to get a grip on planning system failings

Millharbour by 3DReid

National Audit Office says staff shortages and ‘flawed’ needs assessments are a barrier to ramping up housing delivery

The Ministry of Housing needs to take failings with England’s planning system more seriously if government commitments to ramp up housing delivery to 300,000 new homes a year are to be met, the National Audit Office has said.

According to a new report from the public-spending watchdog, the department has only a limited understanding of the weaknesses in the nation’s planning system even though it is targeting what amounts to a 69% hike in annual housing numbers, based on average delivery over the past 13 years.

The report cited evidence of a 13% drop in headcount across local authority planning departments between 2006 and 2016, and particular shortcomings of expertise in conservation, urban design and regeneration.

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