Tony Hugh

1st Jul 2020


The pandemic has created all sorts of interesting situations and difficulties, with everyone fighting their own personal battle during this challenging period of human history - but where local councils are concerned, the question must be asked… how do they intend to continue building the homes that the country so desperately needs during a crisis that could go on for years?

Inside Housing magazine has just delved into this particular issue, speaking to four different councils around the country that are each facing different circumstances because of the pandemic to find out how they’re going to move forward with housing in the medium to long term.

Glasgow City Council, for example, explained that the impact of the virus means it will possibly have to extend its deadline of 2022 for the delivery of 7,500 homes.

Head of housing and regeneration Patrick Flynn said it may be necessary to fund housing associations to make purchases from developers, although developers are still positive that they can sell.

As for Leeds City Council, the local authority had put plans in place to build 1,500 new homes over five years - and, interestingly, it is still confident that it can hit this target even amidst all the disruption caused by coronavirus.

Director of city development Mark Denton explained that progress is still being made and it is expected that the majority of these properties will be finished by 2023/24.

“We benefited from the fact that a lot of our stuff is at the pre-planning stage. We only have one scheme on site at the moment, which has managed to keep going and hand over properties,” he went on to say.

And looking towards London and Waltham Forest, the local council there was already facing a housing crisis before the pandemic and was working on ambitious plans for housing via its own housebuilding company.

The local plan is expected to call for 18,000 new homes over 15 years, with councillor Simon Miller saying it will be necessary for the council to build its way out of the forthcoming recession - and the plan is to spark activity early on through virtual planning committee meetings.

At the end of June, Boris Johnson announced a radical shakeup to the UK’s planning system in order to make it easier for homes to be built where people actually want to live.

These new regulations will allow for greater freedom for buildings and land in town centres to change use without having to have planning permission in place, as well as creating new homes by regenerating vacant and redundant buildings.

Builders will also no longer need to submit a planning application to demolish and rebuild residential and commercial buildings if they’re to be rebuilt as homes, and property owners will be able to take advantage of a fast track approval process so they can build additional living space above their properties.

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