The housing shortage and new property developments

The housing shortage and your property purchase

How it may affect your property purchase

by Philip Bullivant


The UK housing shortage will almost certainly be one of the key issues in the forthcoming General Election.

There is universal consensus that we need more new homes – estimates vary between 250,000 and 300,000 each year. However, in 2016 fewer homes were built than in the previous year: just 140,660 compared to 142,890 in 2015. And home ownership is declining – it currently stands at 64% as compared to 71% in 2003. Yet it remains the preferred choice of most people.

It’s clear that that the housing shortage is likely to continue for some time and that there is work to do to make up this considerable shortfall.

Attitudes to new housing developments

A number of key factors come into play in the housing debate. Many contend that there is plenty of land available for new developments while others strongly resist this view. But results from the British Social Attitudes Survey show contradictory attitudes. The survey found that a majority of people are aware of the problems in the housing market, but would like to see them resolved without additional development. In answer to the question “If the Government were going to do something to make homes more affordable what do you think the most useful action would be?” 69% favoured solutions such as subsidies and only 5% chose the option of allowing developers to build more homes.

The Government’s recent White Paper on housing (Fixing Our Broken Housing Market, February 2017) put the focus on local authorities acting faster to get more homes built. If the plan for the local area is out of date, non-existent or silent (no land set aside for housing), then the authority is obliged to grant permission for new developments. The clear objective is to release more land for housing development. So it’s likely that more and more existing homes will be affected by new building.

How we can help

Whatever your views on the subject, when you buy a property it’s vital to know if there are any planning issues which could affect your decision to purchase. If the most important aspect of the property is the amazing view then you want to make sure it won’t be obscured by a new housing estate.

It’s part of the conveyancing process to report on the “planning title” to the property. This will show:

*Existing planning applications and planning consents granted or refused.

*Conservation Areas.

*Listed Buildings.

*Assets of Community Value.

*Other planning related issues.

The information may come from replies to Local Searches and enquiries of Local Authorities or possibly from the seller. If you are in the area, you may also be able to find out useful information through your own enquiries.

If you have any specific concerns about the possibility of any development close to the property then we can arrange more specialist searches to extract more detailed information.

We’ll be happy to answer any questions about planning title and other conveyancing issues. Call 0114 249 6926 or email

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