RTPI South West Region Research into the delivery and affordability of housing. Invitation to Tender

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1 RTPI South West Region Research into the delivery and affordability of housing September 2016

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 INTRODUCTION BACKGROUND TO THE RTPI BACKGROUND TO THE RESEARCH PROJECT TENDER INFORMATION PURPOSE OF THE RESEARCH METHODOLOGY BUDGET ELEGIBILITY PROJECT TIMESCALES GOVERNANCE OUTPUTS APPLICATION PROCESS EVALUATION CRITERIA ASSESSMENT PANEL DEADLINES FOR APPLICATIONS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY FURTHER INFORMATION AND ENQUIRIES... 6 i

3 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE RTPI The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) is the UK's leading planning body for spatial, sustainable and inclusive planning and is the largest planning institute in Europe with over 23,000 members. The RTPI is: A membership organisation and a Chartered Institute responsible for maintaining professional standards and accrediting world class planning courses nationally and internationally; A charity whose charitable purpose is to advance the science and art of planning (including town and country and spatial planning) for the benefit of the public; A learned society. To this end, the RTPI promotes research into planning practice, theory, policy development and education. The RTPI s strategic research agenda in the UK aims to: Promote the funding and dissemination of research activity informing and evaluating planning policy and practice; Promote awareness and engagement of planning practitioners in planning research at local, national and international scales; Encourage interdisciplinary and intersectoral research and dialogue; Support research in planning education and lifelong learning. The RTPI is represented throughout the UK and Ireland by RTPI Regions and Nations. These regions and nations provide members with a range of services and events, including access to training, lectures, social events, newsletters, local information and networking opportunities. RTPI Regions and Nations are run by volunteers and supported by RTPI staff. 1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE RESEARCH PROJECT The RTPI is interested in the delivery and affordability of housing although in the South West there are additional concerns arising from the high number of second homes and the large retirement population, both of which reduce the supply for new households. Growth also tends to focus on Bristol, Bournemouth, Swindon, Plymouth and Exeter which has the added effect of boosting house price in these areas. Elsewhere, poor accessibility, limited job opportunities, a focus on a dwindling number of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), including those involved in house building, a reliance on seasonal work and lower wage jobs have resulted in incomes which tend to be low whilst house prices have remained high. The result is that the delivery of affordable housing has become a major issue in the South West. The objective of the RTPI South West Regional Management Board (RMB) and Regional Activities Committee (RAC) is to improve upon this situation. This objective, however, has been around for many years. Originating from the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, which allowed agreements to be negotiated between local planning authorities and developers over the provision of low cost housing, it was Government Circular 7/91, Planning and Affordable Housing, which expanded this interest. This made it clear that the 1

4 community s need for affordable housing was a material planning consideration although it presented a conundrum, which still exists, by stating that planning conditions and agreements could not normally be used to impose restrictions on tenure, price or ownership although they could properly be used to restrict the occupation of property for people falling within particular categories of need. Numerous attempts at providing further clarity have been made over the years through more Government Circulars and Planning Policy Guidance Notes. Development Plan policies set out Local Planning Authority needs for the provision of affordable housing in new developments with s106 agreements and planning obligations spelling out the requirements. Yet over the years housing has become more and more expensive. In the 1970s, dwellings cost just 1,000s but are now priced in the 100,000s, with some, even in the South West, costing more than a 1,000,000. Booms and Busts altered the rate of increase but the overall picture has remained one of ever increasing prices. The RTPI SW RMB/RAC is, however, aware that the demand for housing is not based solely on the demands of a growing population. Press reports indicate that a large proportion of dwellings nationwide have and continue to be bought for investment purposes (buy-to-let) and that many more, particularly in the south west, have been bought as second (or more) homes. Both increase the demand for dwellings, whilst reducing the supply for home ownership, which has the effect of pushing up house prices. What this means is that it is not simply a matter of increasing supply. Demand also needs to be taken into account. Time and timing are also important. As house prices rise over time, this means that the longer it takes to allocate land for development, to grant detailed planning permission, to commence and complete development, the greater these matters impact on house prices. Land assembly, infrastructure requirements, necessary and significant public investment works, rising costs and market conditions can all affect price ambitions and the price of housing. 2 TENDER INFORMATION 2.1 PURPOSE OF THE RESEARCH It is becoming increasingly apparent that current planning practice aimed at delivering affordable housing is limited in what it can achieve and that new ideas need to be developed. Less apparent is what these ideas could or should be, but in seeking to expand knowledge and understanding, the RTPI SW is of the opinion that it would make sense to examine what has happened and is happening in the South West by examining selected case studies. Three settlements appear suitable with a more recent consent providing additional information. The three are Cranbrook and Sherford in Devon, and Poundbury in Dorset. The fourth is land to the west of Stonehouse in Gloucestershire. The thinking behind these four is that as there is a 25 year period between the inception of these four developments, so the time differences should enable us to find out what changes have occurred and to make informed and realistic comparisons. In respect of the changes, these would relate to the initiating factors for each settlement: why the locations were chosen; what factors influenced settlement size and settlement boundaries; what proportions of total housing were to be classed as affordable housing, how they fitted into the developments and how they were to be managed. Management in this sense should include both social and 2

5 private landlords. Information about house prices and rents payable during the above stages in the development process would be particularly welcome. With regard to making comparisons, it is considered that this should relate to planning policy, development management, what has been built, changes in housing tenure and changes in house prices and rents. On the planning side, the focus should be on changes to policy and conditions of consent, and whether the level and detail of these have changed in any way. Consideration should also be given to the acquisition of the land and the release of land to builders. In respect of what has been built, the research should provide detail on changes in housing density and the size of dwellings, and the extent to which increases in house and land values have led to more intense developments. With regard to management, attention should focus on changes to land and house prices, rents and changes to tenure. This is because increases in the number of buy-to-let properties reduce the supply for home ownership which helps increase house prices. The underlying purpose for examining the above is to enable planners and others to get a better idea of what has been happening to housing delivery and house prices. Important points are to appreciate how affordability thresholds have changed, the impacts these can have on the provision of new dwellings and how they affect the supply and demand for dwellings. The aim is to increase understanding about the ways in which the housing market has and is changing and, as a consequence, to assist in the adoption of more appropriate approaches in the delivery of housing that is genuinely more affordable. 2.2 METHODOLOGY The intention is to appoint researchers to design and employ rigorous techniques that will gather and present comprehensive data to advance the debate on the delivery of housing that is more affordable. In line with the purpose above, it is envisaged that there will be six main parts to the investigation as follows: a) Information gathering. This would be in respect of two broad matters relating to (1) the planning and development processes, and (2) the changing prices and construction costs of dwellings and plot pricing. In (1) the aim will be to identify the planning policy processes and timelines from the initial thoughts to develop the settlements to obtaining detailed planning consent for dwellings and to when dwellings were first completed and available for occupation. With (2), the objective is to establish what the pricing structure and housing demand were in the locality of each settlement at the initial stage, the time of detailed consent, when the dwellings were initially offered for sale and what current prices are. b) Alongside the above, there is a need to establish how many dwellings were initially required to be built under the social housing banner and how many are now available in all tenure types (Private Rented Sector, Social/Affordable, Shared Ownership and Market). It is appreciated that this may need to be done using social survey techniques and it cannot, of course, apply to Stonehouse as no dwellings have yet been built. Depending on when the first dwellings are completed in Sherford, it may also not apply there although a picture of the evolving agreements on tenure splits would be useful. 3

6 c) Analysis of the information obtained above to establish: (1) differences in house prices not just over the study period but also between the settlements and between the main dwelling types (terraced, detached and apartments); and (2) to find out what changes, if any, there have been to tenure. d) Interviews with LPA planners, strategic land promoters, and house builders to draw out qualitative responses and perspectives on the effectiveness of the planning system to deliver affordable housing. e) Further interviews with social landlords and, where appropriate, estate agents, to assess the nature and extent of change in tenure between home ownership and rented accommodation. f) To reflect on the planning and development processes and to identify existing good practice and where it might be improved. However, we will not discount alternative methodological proposals from potential research bidders. 2.3 BUDGET This project will be funded up to a maximum and fixed sum of 15,000 (to include all disbursements but excluding VAT), with the intention that this be paid in three instalments according to agreed project milestones (i.e. on signing of the contract, delivery of the interim draft report and the final draft to an acceptable quality standard). This budget is non-negotiable, however, we would be happy to consider bids that involve match-funding or co-funding the project, and for research teams to consider how leveraging in additional funding could extend the scope of the proposed project. 2.4 ELIGIBILITY Tenders are invited from RTPI and RICS planning and development schools, other universitybased research teams/departments, research consultancies and other appropriate organisations. Collaborations between organisations are welcome. 2.5 PROJECT TIMESCALE We anticipate that the project will last six months, starting at the beginning of November 2016 and being delivered by 30 April 2017 and no later. The precise timescale for the project will be determined in collaboration with the selected research team during the inception meeting, which is expected to take place during w/c 21 November 2016 and an interim report will be sought by the beginning of March GOVERNANCE The South West RMB/RAC has appointed a steering group for this project comprising five chartered planners, three of whom are practicing consultants (one semi-retired), and where four have considerable past local planning authority and one academic experience. 4

7 The commissioning client for this project is the RTPI South West region but contracts will be signed by the RTPI on its behalf as the legal body. The RMB/RAC and the RTPI nationally will review the findings with special interest. 2.7 OUTPUTS A clearly written research report (interim and final reports to be provided in MS Word and Adobe PDF electronic formats), which the RTPI South West and RTPI will publish in a suitable form; The RTPI will also work with the research team to consider other potential places to promote the findings and conclusions from the research (for example, the RTPI s magazine The Planner). 2.8 APPLICATION PROCESS Organisations/project teams should submit a tender document that includes: Proposed methodology, including regarding stakeholder engagement; Proposed outputs; Project team and general experience; Statement of experience relevant to the project, and selected projects that demonstrate relevant experience; Total cost of the project; and A budget breakdown between the stages, daily rates and personnel inputs. 2.9 EVALUATION CRITERIA Applications will be evaluated against five criteria: 1. Quality, rigour and depth of the proposed methodology and analysis; 2. Experience/track record/knowledge of research relevant to the project; 3. Experience of effective and impactful partnership working (i.e. with research commissioners); 4. Experience of managing potentially politically-sensitive projects; 5. Value for money. In addition we welcome tenders from suppliers who can demonstrate an effective commitment to diversity and inclusion as organisations and employers ASSESSMENT PANEL An assessment panel comprising members of the project steering group will evaluate tenders and decide which application to support DEADLINES FOR APPLICATIONS Tender applications should be submitted electronically to: Applications should be received by no later than 9am on Monday 17 October

8 It is intended to interview a shortlist of bidders in Taunton from Friday 21 October 2016 and to appoint the successful research team by Monday 31 October INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY The RTPI (SW) and RTPI will retain ownership of the work, but will grant the researchers the right to publish and re-use the material submitted to RTPI, and will be fully credited for their work. Researchers and institutions should not apply if they will not be able to agree to this provision. The researchers should acknowledge the support from the RTPI in any subsequent publications and activity based on the supported projects FURTHER INFORMATION AND ENQUIRIES Summary information on the scheme can be found on the RTPI website at: We welcome enquiries about this project, but please note that all responses to enquiries will be issued as (anonymised) Q&A s to all bidders by Friday 7 October For enquiries, please contact: Greg McGill RTPI South West Research Officer 6

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