Slough issues stark warning it is running out of land for new homes
In the past year Slough has seen the highest level of new homes built since the crash and expects to deliver similar levels of new homes for the next 6 years. But after that a shortage of land will severely impact the Council’s house-building aspirations forcing an “outward migration” of the town.
Slough’s land supply for homebuilding is drying up … fast. While the Council believes new completions will be ahead of target for the next six years, after that it expects new homes to fall dramatically.
In the 2015/16 year 789 net additional dwellings were completed, the highest level of house building reported since the peak of 849 completions in 2008/09.
Assessing 5 year housing land supply on an annual basis through an updated housing trajectory is a requirement of the Government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). If a five year supply plus a 5 % buffer of deliverable sites cannot be identified the Council is open to planning by appeal.
The Council projects that the level of new homes will remain high – at around 800 for the next five years – which is much higher than its current target of 550 a year. On current trends it will be able to build the equivalent of 8.3 years’ supply over the next five years and will have built all of the houses targeted for the current plan period (2006 – 2026) four years early, by 2022.
Whilst Slough can sustain this high level of housebuilding in the short term, in the long term we are unlikely to be able to achieve this due to the shortage of land.
The high numbers last year were elevated by big green field sites such as Castleview and Kennedy Court, initiatives to promote housing, and the relaxation of rules for residential conversions. Last year 236 new homes fell into this latter category, which did not require planning permission, and there are a further 468 prior approvals in the pipeline.
However the Council does not believe the levels are sustainable:
“… the supply of greenfield sites is likely to dry up and the supply of office accommodation that can be converted into flats is likely to have been used up. The need to get high quality design standards and a wide range of house types may also reduce the number of dwellings that can be accommodated upon high density sites”.
But even the elevated figures for the next few years will be well below the estimated 927 new homes that last year’s independent housing assessment indicated were needed. Slough set a target in 2008 of 315 per year but increased this to 550 in January to be in line with the Slough Five Year Plan.
Slough’s current Five Year Supply is sufficient to build 3,840 new homes.
In a report published earlier this month planning officers note that the failure to build sufficient homes “will result in a combination of more overcrowding, homelessness, and forced outward migration”.