Powys faces a housing crisis unless action is taken

Timber frame construction of a new house
A timber frame housing construction project

A lack of new homes being built in Powys could have a serious knock-on effect on private, affordable, and social housing needs, impacting on school numbers and community facilities and even homelessness in the county, a local architect has warned.

The number of new homes being built within the county has fallen short of a target so far due to a range of factors, according to Doug Hughes, Principal Architect and Managing Director at Hughes Architects, based in Newtown and Welshpool.

With housing associations and others relying on a percentage of new housing stock on private developments being allocated as affordable homes, there is less availability for local private homebuyers. Mr Hughes said this would also hit young people looking to get on to the housing ladder.

Doug Hughes, Principal Architect and Managing Director at Mid Wales-based Hughes Architects, said there was a need for private developers, landowners, planners and architects to work together to help develop plans to kickstart the situation.

“A recent Annual Monitoring Report into the Powys Local Development Plan, which sets out the number of new homes required in the county by 2026, has highlighted that we’re falling short by about 2,400 homes. Since 2011 there have been 2,101 new homes built, about 47 per cent of the target set out by the end of the LDP life in 2026,” said Mr Hughes.

Allocated land is not being used for housing development

“We have a problem whereby land allocated within the LDP is not being brought forward for development. Around 66 per cent of allocated housing sites within the Powys LDP do not have planning permission on them.”

Mr Hughes said the issue was being compounded by a lack of existing domestic properties coming on to the housing market following the re-introduction of the Land Transaction Tax after the pandemic.

“We are at a serious point where there is very little private housing, new and existing, coming on to the market. What makes this serious is that it will impact directly on local communities where affordable home are needed, schools require a stream of pupils to remain open, and investment in other community facilities will be reduced due to lack of demand,” said Mr Hughes.

“Powys County Council is doing a good job in investing in new social housing, and it has a commitment to create 250 homes for rent by 2025.

“But there is also a need for private affordable homes in all of our rural communities and unless we increase the number of private developments of medium and larger sites, then what are called Section 106 requirements for the number of affordable homes on the sites will not come forward.”

Landowners, developers and planners need to work together

Mr Hughes has urged developers, landowners, planners, housing associations and others to get together to examine ways of accelerating plans.

He said: “We need a forum to work out how the private and public sectors can stimulate the local housing market in terms of new homes and developments. We know demand is there, especially since the pandemic with more people seeking properties in rural areas such as Powys.

“This is good news. Financially active families and others are wanting to live and work in our rural communities, reversing a trend for people to retire here. This can also help those wanting to remain and work in their communities after education. But we need to act quickly.”

He said he was actively seeking to bring relevant individuals, companies and organisations together to address the situation.

Hughes Architects Passivhaus certified affordable homes An architectural design of a residential property with an integrated EV charging point ©Hughes Architects