Portsmouth’s ‘impossible’ house-building targets could have been overestimated, new figures show 

Housebuilding targets could be slashed. File photo. Picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire
Housebuilding targets could be slashed. File photo. Picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

'IMPOSSIBLE' housing targets forced onto Portsmouth City Council could have been overestimated, according to the most recent figures.

New forecasts suggest that only around 520 new homes a year would need to be built in the city until 2041 to meet demands, opposed to a current target of 835.

The numbers, provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), reflect a nationwide trend which predict 159,000 new homes will be needed every year in England,.

This is significantly less than the government's 300,000-a-year that was set out in Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond's budget last year.

It is thought this is partly due to the number of young people staying at home with their parents for longer.

Previously Portsmouth councillors told of their concerns that a target of more than 800 homes a year until 2036 would be too much.

Councillor Darren Sanders, cabinet member for housing, said that a reduction in the target would be more realistic.

He said: 'We haven't had any formal notification of these ONS figures but if they are true then any reduction to a more realistic level is welcome.

'The current target given is way above what the council's planning team says the council is technically able to cope with, 630 a year, which remains extremely concerning.

'We need to make sure that we protect as much open space as possible and what we want to have is as much control over our homes as possible.

'Personally I have always thought that Portsmouth should have the strategic planning powers required to build the homes it needs.'

Leader of Fareham Borough Council, Cllr Sean Woodward, said current targets to be unrealistic. The council's officers worked out that its 531-a-year target given by government was too high.

Cllr Woodward said: 'We have calculated the housing need over the 10-year period from 2018 to 2028 using the standard method as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and Planning Practice Guidance.  

'This method used the household growth  projections as a baseline and is adjusted to take account of affordability in the area using median workplace-based affordability ratios.

'Our figures would knock off about 65 homes a year from our current target which means we still have to find a significant amount of housing. If we are allowed to use these figures as a new target that would help but the jury is still out on that.

'But we are still looking for sites for around 1,000 homes on top of the 2,000 we have found space for.

'At the moment though we don't know if these numbers will make any difference to our targets.'

Under the ONS figures Fareham would only need 331 new homes until 2041.

Full figures

Office for National Statistics figures on the number of homes needed a year from 2016 until 2041:

Fareham - 331

Gosport - 260

Havant - 347

Portsmouth - 520

Current local assessment of housing need per year:

Fareham - 420

Gosport - 335

Havant - 450

Portsmouth - 740

Most recent government assessment of homes need per year, 2016 to 2036:

Fareham - 531

Gosport - 238

Havant - 463

Portsmouth - 835