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Brexit, Covid and material costs stopping some Notts councils from hitting housing target, council leaders say

The impacts of Brexit, the pandemic and the surging costs of materials are hampering some Nottinghamshire councils in delivering on their housing targets.

This is according to two council leaders, who say developers are also sitting on land or not building homes despite planning permission being granted by the councils.

Local authorities calculate their housing targets based on methods set out by the Government and are expected to deliver on the figure or face the risk of financial punishment.

And Government data shows Ashfield, Broxtowe and Gedling councils failed to meet their targets between 2018 and 2021, with Ashfield delivering the smallest percentage of the three.

The council was required to build 1,257 homes in this three-year period, but the figures reveal 829 properties were delivered during this time.

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This amounts to roughly two-thirds of the expected figure and comes at a time when the authority is drafting its upcoming local housing plan.

Both Broxtowe and Gedling reached 85 per cent of their overall targets during the same period, with Broxtowe delivering 803 of the 948 homes and Gedling delivering 978 out of 1,147 homes during this period.

The leader of Broxtowe Borough Council has confirmed the authority will be above its target once figures are released for 2021/22.

But Councillor John Clarke (Lab), leader of Gedling Borough Council, says a lot of the borough’s difficulties are down to issues with the construction market and developers either not being able to or choosing not to build homes.

He said: “A lot of it is significantly the result of getting materials, some caused by Brexit, lorry drivers, the pandemic – it’s all contributing to the delay. If you’ve got staff off you can’t build.

“You try and procure some of these goods – it’s so difficult and expensive at the minute and I doubt companies building them are making much off it.

“I think developers also look at housing continuing to show gains and they’re wanting to keep their options open. If they keep some land, it’s going to be worth a damn sight more in two years’ time and they’ll make more gain.

“For us it’s about getting rooves over peoples’ heads, but for the big companies, a lot of it is profit.”

Despite issues in Ashfield, Broxtowe and Gedling, councils across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire have delivered more homes city and countywide than was expected in the three years to 2021.

Bassetlaw over-delivered the most homes of the eight councils, with 1,905 built against a target of 769 – a 248 per cent delivery rate.

Nottingham City Council also delivered 163 per cent of its target, while Mansfield’s rate was 178 per cent, Newark and Sherwood’s was 173 per cent and Rushcliffe delivered 122 per cent on its target.

In total, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire councils were required to deliver 10,435 new homes between 2018 and 2021, delivering 14,386 in that period.

And Cllr Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), leader of Ashfield District Council, believes a lot of the district’s issues centre around developers “rotating” where they build homes and not developing too much within one area.

“This target means the number of houses built, which isn’t the council and is the developers,” he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

“We’ve got something like 3,500 granted permissions and the developers just haven’t been able to build.

“We were very good in the three years before 2018 and I think developers saw that, and they often like to spread out where they’re building homes so it’s not all in one area.

“They have looked at other areas outside Ashfield to rotate it around, and there’s very little the council can do about this.”

Ashfield District Council is currently drafting its local housing document and Cllr Zadrozny has been vocal about issues with Government housing targets in the past.

The document will outline where 8,226 homes can be built between 2020 and 2038, but has led to backlash from residents in areas like Hucknall and Sutton where thousands of homes are proposed.

Cllr Milan Radulovic (Lab), leader of Broxtowe Borough Council, says having his local plan in place has helped to steady the ship over the past year.

He is not concerned about the figures in his area and confirmed the authority has overperformed on its target for 2021/22.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We’re about 132 over on the projected target for this year so we’re above target now.

“We’ve had our local plan in place for a few years and we’re working on it to take us through to 2038 and, as a consequence, we’re looking at our allocations with things like Toton and Chetwynd Barracks.

“We are well on target now to meet our requirement and that’s been reflected in next year’s New Homes Bonus grant from Government.”

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said last year the Government could reform the way it calculates housing targets, describing the current system as “outdated”.

If reform was announced, it could change the level of housing built within communities – with the Government prioritising building on brownfield sites.

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