Some of the UK’s largest cities are planning housing developments on a huge scale. Although this may seem like an attempt to aid the current housing crisis, it is quite the opposite. Indeed, there will be houses available to the public, but many aren’t affordable and therefore not accessible.
When the government refers to “affordable” housing, it means that homes must be offered as council housing or rented at no more than 80% of the local market rate. 14,667 homes have been granted planning permission in Manchester over the past two years. However, none of these new homes are set to be affordable with concerns mounting that London’s affordable housing crisis is spreading elsewhere.
Manchester is a rapidly developing city, with properties selling three times as quickly as London. However, much like the capital, housing developments in Manchester are mainly built with luxury in mind, rather than affordability. Planners have frequently given permission for the development of apartment complexes that contain swimming pools and tennis courts yet fail to adhere to the national definition of “affordable”. Additionally, the price of rent in central Manchester has increased on average by more than £100 year on year.
Most councils have planning guidelines when deciding what percentage of housing in any large-scale development should be affordable. For Manchester, any development that contains 16 or more units or is larger than 0.3 hectares should include 20% affordable housing. Manchester City Council have maintained that failure to meet these guidelines is because there are “already 68,000 social rented properties in the city”. Nevertheless, over 12,900 people are still waiting for council housing. The issue of affordable housing isn’t just restricted to London or Manchester. In Sheffield, house prices rose faster each year than in any other UK city. Out of the 6,943 new homes approved by planners in 2016 and 2017, only 97 met the government’s affordable definition. In Nottingham, the council aims for 20% of all new housing to be affordable, but only 3.8% of properties that have received planning permission meet the definition.
With a serious lack of affordable housing in place, workers who are essential to public services (such as nurses and teachers ) are being displaced because they can’t afford a home in UK cities. Young professionals beginning employment following higher education are also struggling to find accommodation in cities. Such workers are looking to more suburban areas that are more affordable, yet they still face costly commutes to cities where they are meant to work.