Overview and Structure

The book is structured in three parts. Building on this introduction, Part I introduces the conceptual framework for understanding the operation of the housing market; housing policy goals and indicators, and the operation and potential roles of the planning system in relation to housing. Chapter 2 introduces the modern planning system as it has evolved from the early twentieth century, when concerns about poor housing conditions culminated in a range of urban reforms and new approaches to residential and neighbourhood design. The chapter also sets a framework for comparing international approaches to urban governance and planning regulation, in terms of government structures, spatial struc- tures/urban form and settlement, basic approaches to land allocation and regulation of development, and the differing roles of government and the market in the housing development process. Key features and operations of the housing system are examined in more detail in Chap. 3, which explains the social and economic significance of housing; and the drivers of housing demand and supply. A series of defining policy challenges affecting housing systems are discussed in the wider context of globalisation: poverty and inequality; demographic change; environmental and climate pressures; and the quality of urban life. Chapter 3 also introduces key indicators to highlight similarities and differences associated with housing stock, urban structure, tenure (and the non-profit sector), household size and growth, housing supply and price/affordability.

Chapter 4 examines the debates on how planning as a form of market intervention affects the supply and price of residential land and housing. With reference to both the empirical literature and examples from practice, this chapter distils key policy tactics for ensuring that planners maximise the positive impacts of planning on housing outcomes by creating demand through infrastructure coordination and enhanced amenity, and minimising potentially negative or unfair outcomes for housing affordability or supply.

Part II of this book presents a series of empirical case study chapters addressing different approaches to planning system intervention for housing outcomes, in different nations, focussing particularly on interventions to promote increased housing supply overall and for lower-income groups in particular. In presenting these cases, we include references to historical sources to help explain the ways in which these particular systems have evolved. This raises the question of whether contemporary policy responses to common twenty-first century housing challenges will reflect fundamental ‘path dependencies’ or are rather heading towards convergence. Chapter 5 examines developments in housing and planning policy in the UK, with a particular focus on England in the period following the Barker reviews on housing supply and the planning system (Barker 2004, 2006), to the constrained funding environment in the period following the GFC. Constrained housing supply has been a defining feature of the British experience over the past decade where current output is running at around half the projected demand. England also serves as an important example of how consistent, nationally supported mandates for affordable housing inclusion can support the non-profit sector over time.

Changing tensions between housing and urban policy in the US are the focus in Chap. 6, where restrictive local planning systems emerged as a mechanism for suburban ‘exclusion’ over the early and mid-twentieth century, exacerbating socio-spatial divides. Contemporary housing roles of the federal government, states and local authorities in the USA and the key forms of housing assistance through rental vouchers, public housing and tax credits for low-cost rental housing development and provision are explained alongside contemporary planning approaches to promote ‘inclusion’ of more affordable homes in new and renewing communities. The US case is distinct for exhibiting relatively responsive quantities of new housing supply, and yet low- and moderate-income renters and home purchasers continue to exhibit considerable affordability pressures.

Ireland (Chap. 7) offers significant lessons about planning for affordable housing supply under conditions of rapid growth and price inflation, and about managing risks associated with wider macro-economic trends. The chapter examines the particular features of local planning and municipal financing in Ireland that triggered the speculative oversupply binge, and identifies potential lessons for other jurisdictions. New pressures, particularly globalisation and the financialisation of housing, have had profound impacts on the market, as highlighted in this case, where a strong speculative housing bubble combined with a weak planning system to deliver too much housing, in the wrong places, whilst undermining emerging attempts to promote more inclusionary forms of development. There are similarities with other cases in Europe and beyond, for example, Spain, where international migration, amenity/ retirement and second home tourism, particularly in coastal areas, played a large role in generating a speculative housing boom in the lead up to the GFC.

The range of approaches used to deliver affordable housing in Hong Kong and mainland China, offer important counterparts to the other cases considered in this book (Chap. 8). In Hong Kong, a series of long standing government schemes have delivered affordable public housing rental and home purchase, as well as effective plan-led public land disposal and development, new towns and the integration of housing and public transport infrastructure. Issues concerning the long term management, maintenance and renewal of high-rise housing are effectively managed too, seemingly without the significant social problems associated with concentrated disadvantage that have characterised public housing schemes elsewhere. Hong Kong and other Asian ‘dragon’ economies have significantly influenced mainland China in its rapid recent urbanisation, as also discussed in this chapter.

Australia is an interesting nation in which to examine the interrelationships between urban policy and housing (Chap. 9). It has amongst the world’s most expensive housing (IMF 2015), and its approaches to land use planning are an amalgam of models used in many parts of the world, with US style zoning overlaid by UK style discretionary assessment. New millennium concerns about insufficient housing production and the affordability of home ownership have focussed particularly on the role of the planning system in housing production, prompting a series of deregulatory reforms designed to loosen perceived constraints, but home ownership is becoming increasingly unattainable for low- and moderate- income earners. Whilst the inclusionary planning models demonstrated in the UK and many parts of the US could help secure affordable housing as part of the large scale development and redevelopment efforts occurring in many parts of metropolitan Australia, to date the policy emphasis has focussed on boosting the overall number of new dwellings rather than the availability of affordable homes for low- and moderate-income earners.

Overall the experiences demonstrated in these case study countries suggest the need for planning processes to be underpinned by clear information about housing demand and supply at local and regional scales, and equipped with mandates and mechanisms for ensuring that affordable housing is included as part of all new development.

Part III draws on the previous chapters to present more operational approaches to undertaking housing need analyses, developing local strategies for promoting adequate supplies of moderately priced housing across the market, and designing specific measures to secure affordable homes during the development process. Chapter 10 provides operational guidance on how to develop an evidence base for identifying and responding to housing needs at regional and local levels in both metropolitan and non-metropolitan contexts. As well as explaining techniques, indicators and data sources for undertaking a housing need and market analysis, this chapter draws on operational examples, predominantly from the UK and the USA, for illustration. This chapter also provides practical guidance on how to develop local and regional housing strategies to respond to identified existing and projected need, including setting (or accommodating) targets for new and affordable housing production, and indicators for measuring progress over time.

Chapter 11 introduces and extends the current state of knowledge on approaches to planning for inclusionary housing through a variety of mandatory and voluntary mechanisms suited to different development and housing market contexts. It draws on the cases presented in earlier chapters to provide guidance on matching planning mechanisms to particular types of markets and development contexts. It also outlines the range of policy settings, resources and delivery systems needed to support inclusionary housing strategies.

Chapter 12 draws together the different perspectives and experiences presented in this book to highlight a series of common issues and emerging lessons. We restate the case for governments to take housing problems seriously, whilst acknowledging the role of distinctive, historically evolved political forces in mediating particular responses to the common challenges of poverty and inequality, demographic change, environmental and climate uncertainty, and the complexities of urban life. We also examine how fundamental differences in planning system ‘regimes’ (systems of development control, land ownership and the scale of urban governance), might influence the overall delivery of new and affordable housing supply whilst contributing to wider socially and environmentally sustainable communities.

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