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Proposed Census change may undermine housebuilding claim planners

18 December 2013

Proposals to change the way the Census is undertaken may undermine efforts to meet the housing shortfall, according to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) the organisation representing professional planners in the UK, in its response to the Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) Census consultation which closed on Friday (13 December).

Planners base their housing need projections on tried and tested data sources on population, housing and travel which is currently provided by the Census.

Land for new housing in a local area is allocated by planners in councils’ Local Plans (called Local Development Plans in Wales) to meet projected housing need. Commuting patterns, based on a 10% sample of the population, form a key element of the way that housing need in a local area is calculated, and the ONS consultation seems to indicate that data on commuting patterns will no longer be collected.

Dr Peter Geraghty, President of the RTPI, said: “The ONS’s proposals to change the Census may undermine planners’ ability to accurately project future trends and meet future demand. Planners base their housing need projections on tried and tested data sources on population, housing and travel which is currently provided by the Census.”

In the RTPI’s response to the Census consultation, the Institute said: “the absence of information on commuting would be disastrous” to councils’ ability to secure agreement amongst local authorities when creating their Local Plan.

The Office for National Statistics’ consultation, “Beyond 2011”, on the Census closed on the 13 December.