What are the numbers?

There has been much store made by BDC and others about the need to have 37,000 new houses built in and around Norwich over the next 15 years.  They have justified this by stating that there are a large number of homeless people on the various Councils housing lists and that they have a duty of care to provide affordable housing for these local residents.

We have always agreed with this assertion, however, we have several times questioned the size of the lists and the real need for this large number of affordable houses which was always set at 40% of the total that are planned to be built.  The local authorities have been reluctant to share the numbers with us in sufficient detail for us to query the make up of the lists.  We have always stated that we do not object to the provision of affordable housing as long as it is in context of the real housing NEED rather than the housing WANT.

This view seems to have been confirmed by the analysis of affordable housing needed in Norfolk 2010 carried out by Shelter who have produced a league table which provides a snapshot of how well councils were doing at delivering the affordable housing needed in their areas, comparing their performance to give each council a ranking.

Population density
Affordable housing delivered

Affordable housing needed (Experts' estimates)

Proportion of affordable need delivered %

Overall rank in England

South Norfolk Council
Broadland District Council
Norwich City Council


Population density: The number of people per square kilometre in the area, Office for National Statistics, Regional trends, Regional data table 1.2.

Affordable housing delivered: Annual average (using last three years of data available) of additional affordable homes provided by local authority area where homes located, 2006/07 to 2008/09: CLG live table 1008

Affordable housing needed (Experts' estimates): As laid out in the latest available Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) or Housing Needs Study (HNS) for the area. For an understanding of the assumptions used in independent assessments of the need for affordable housing in each local authority, please refer to their SHMA or HNS.
Proportion of affordable need delivered %: Calculated by expressing the number of affordable homes delivered as a percentage of annual requirements for affordable housing.

Overall rank in England: Ranking on the proportion of affordable housing need delivered.

So it seems that all the local Councils in the Greater Norwich Development Partnership are faring quite well in providing affordable housing!  Perhaps that’s why they were happy to see the number drop to 33% in the final iteration of the Joint Core Strategy.  

Have a look at the figures at www.localhousingwatch.org.uk or look at Norfolk County Council’s own website, Norfolk Insight, dedicated to ‘visualising’ community data.

If you then look at the work by the Empty Homes Agency (EHA) who submitted a Freedom of Information request which has revealed that around 12,000 empty homes are hidden from official figures because they are earmarked for demolition.  Their website and associated press release is at:

Then take the number of new ‘Brownfield sites’ that have cropped up in the existing Norwich boundary since the original forecast for the JCS and we see a very different picture.

So what are the numbers of houses needed in and around Norwich?  All we have ever asked is for the scrapping of the regional targets, as already agreed by the coalition government, and a sensible plan based on real NEED.  These numbers would then be subject to an independent audit, maybe by CPRE or Shelter, and subjected to a full transparent consultation with sensible alternatives showing the dispersal options for what we believe will be a much smaller and reduced total number.

We believe that with the number of planning applications already approved and awaiting construction, another important and missing statistic, there is plenty of time to carry out this exercise.  What say you?  


  1. What I say is this: these figures seem like dynamite. Surely the JCS 37000 target must have been justified in some way by claiming this number would be necessary to meet the NEED for affordable housing? If so, by using this information, you should be able to blow them out of the water at the judicial review.

    There has never been any credible justification for the absurdly high number of houses GNDP want - this proves that it is nothing more than speculative development, just as some of the wiser other commenters have said recently.

  2. Were these figures available at the recent JCS enquiry? If so,were they presented to the government planning inspectors? If so,how on earth did they pass the JCS as sound? The figures PROVE that the massive building plans are NOT to supply LOCAL housing NEEDS,but are to support the underlying plan to import huge numbers of people to this unspoilt area,to its detriment and at the same time,of course,pander to the profit plans of the developers. Excellent ammunition for the forthcoming legal action.

  3. Andy Radcliff (Rackheath)26 May 2011 at 17:17

    I have to say to you Snub, well done ! Those figures should certainly put a stop to the JCS.
    Its good to see some facts, with all the Broadland Council bashing, i was loosing faith a few weeks back, but with the above facts i wish you all the best to get the number of houses the area needs into reality.

  4. Dont get too excited. If you actually read what is said the "need" only makes sense if it is an annual figure as it is compared to the annual average for Shelter to judge the performance. So the requirement is 121+98+624 or 843 dwellings per YEAR. This is just affordable houses - hopefully many people will be able to afford to buy. If the GNDPs target was 40% affordable then the 843 equates to 2,100 total per year - over 18 years this results in 37,800. So on this basis GNDP are not providing sufficient!

  5. Star date 2011: target date 2026: difference 15 years -come back down to Earth anonymous 19:28!

    If we're bandying statistics around, how about checking the ratio of affordable housing delivered to affordable housing needed across the three councils, ie: 833:843, ie: almost parity, and this without there having been any massive target to be aimed for.

    Norwich is likely to improve quite dramatically as its brownfield sites get developed, reducing the overall need over the 3 council's areas considerably. When taking this into account, on top of your odd miscalculation of the number of years between now and 2026, it is clear that the 37000 target is way over the top.

  6. Hal - I think Anonymous 19:28 is correct. The JCS target is for the period 2008-2026, which is 18 years.

    And the other thing to remember is that the GNDP didnt invent housing targets - there have been targets since the planning system was invented. Otherwise no-one would known what to plan for!

  7. Andy Radcliff (rackeath)1 June 2011 at 22:10

    Looks like figures are wrong :(.

  8. No the figures are "right". Anonymous 26 May has shown that it is SNUBS distortion that is wrong! How much longer are you going to let them get away with it?

  9. The most recent report of housing registers supplied to CPRE by the GNDP confirmed that 15043 applicants are currently on the housing waiting lists for the three councils combined.

    However, 10763 of those applicants are registered as 'low need' ie applicants who are currently adequately housed but want a change of location, for example.

    As such, the genuine housing need for the three areas combined is less than 5,000 households. This makes it clear that the Joint Core Strategy is based around in-migration.

    Here at CPRE, we like to speculate that if all the houses in the JCS were actually built, there would probably be no significant change in the numbers of people in need on the housing waiting lists at all. Has housebuilding on a mass scale ever addressed social problems?

    These figures are certainly interesting to monitor, going forward.

  10. Thank you James Frost for putting this whole figures issue into perspective. Hopefully, the antis will take this on board. Thanks for an excellent comment (apart from the 'going forward!)