In its latest attack on PPG3, housebuilders’ body says apartment life risks discouraging couples from reproducing

The House Builders Federation will next week warn the government that its push for high-density living could discourage couples from having children.

The effect on family planning is one of a number of problems with the government’s housebuilding policy highlighted in a report commissioned by the HBF and carried out by professor Dave King of the department of planning at Anglia Polytechnic University.

The report found that the shift in output towards apartments could affect family life because young couples may delay having children until they could afford to move to bigger, more family-friendly housing.

It is the first in-depth look at how the government’s emphasis on driving up densities in city centres will affect the social dynamics of a community. It will also lend weight to fears that the government’s policy is not properly aligned to the needs of homebuyers.

The research focused on the impact of the density requirements of planning policy guidance 3. The guidance is a key part of the government’s sustainable communities agenda, because it requires councils to favour high-density housing built on brownfield land as opposed to semi-detached suburban homes

Since PPG3 was introduced by the government four years ago, housebuilders have responded by developing more apartments and terraced housing. In 1999, apartments accounted for just 17% of new homes built. Now more than half are apartments.

Output of detached houses has dropped from 38% five years ago to 17%

Recent figures released by the National House Building Council show that the number of detached houses built has dropped from 38% five years ago to 17%.

The government promoted high densities to save greenfield land and because the trend towards smaller and more numerous households would be better accommodated by apartment blocks.

But the HBF study suggests that intervention in the housing market could have far-reaching effects.

Pierre Williams, HBF director of communications, said the study would show the danger of ignoring what homebuyers wanted.

He said: “It is a complex and largely unknown subject. We have to consider whether we are failing to match people’s aspirations.”