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Local Authority Direct Provision of Housing

Local Authority Direct Provision Housing Cover*Update 2nd April 2019: phase 2 interim report and 2019 table of activity now published*

As increasingly recognised across the main political parties and commentators, one major reason for the 'housing crisis' is that local authorities ceased their role of direct housing providers in the 1980s. Since then, the shortfall in housing provision has mirrored the scale of the former local authority contribution to the market.

The RTPI has commissioned two pieces of research to explore how local authorities are returning to housebuilding. The ultimate aim is to understand the role of planning in facilitating the delivery of affordable and high quality housing by local authorities. This will mean we can (1) develop practice advice to promote best practice, and (2) develop recommendations for policymakers and other stakeholders to enable local authority housebuilding to flourish.

Both phases of the research are being led by Professor Janice Morphet and Dr Ben Clifford at The Bartlett School of Planning, University College London. The first phase was sponsored by RTPI along with the National Planning Forum [final report here]. The second phase is being funded by RTPI, RTPI North East, RTPI North West, RTPI West Midlands and RTPI South East [Interim report here and table of activity here].


Phase 2 (2018-19): Delivery, outcomes & best practice

The second phase of this research is currently underway. It is a mixture of desk research, roundtables in every English region with local authority planners, and around 10 case studies of particular local authorities.

Related documents:


Phase 1 (2017): Motivations, methods and means

This project identified the practical ways in which local authorities in England are engaging in the direct provision of housing in their areas.

This final report shows the practical ways in which local authorities in England are delivering housing today. It maps out a variety of innovative ways that more housing is being provided by the public sector at a time of significant pressures on local authority budgets. The report includes:

  • evidence that an estimated 65% of local authorities are directly involved in housing provision, whilst only 9% are not involved in any housing provision activity
  • a detailed review of the policy and practice context of local authority involvement in housing
  • details of a wide variety of mechanisms and means of engaging in direct provision of housing
  • recommendations for Government, local authorities, and other key stakeholders on boosting local authority direct provision of housing

This research was commissioned by the National Planning Forum and the RTPI.

Related documents

The research team can be contacted at: