Could planning changes support the development of teacher housing?


The government may alter planning rules to enable schools to develop on-site housing for teachers in areas of great demand.

As part of the teacher recruitment and retention strategy, the Department for Education has said it will explore changes to property laws, should there be enough demand for teaching housing projects to command such a move.

Currently, the DfE’s property arm, LocatEd, is in the process of developing a pilot to identify surplus land that could be sold for the development of housing, some of which would be reserved for teachers.

With property prices high, there have been concerns that teachers could be priced out of certain areas unless action is taken.

The Harris Federation, one of England’s largest trusts, announced in 2017 that up to 100 homes would be developed in partnership with a housing association to support teachers.

Meanwhile, LocatEd chief executive Lara Newman revealed that the organisation was looking at how best to deliver housing on school sites in April 2018.

It has now been confirmed that LocatEd is “in the early stages of running a small-scale pilot to explore how to reconfigure a selection of school properties with surplus buildings or land”.

A spokesperson added: “The primary aim is to unlock funds to support additional capital investment in school buildings, and in turn, release land for homes.

“The pilot will focus on areas of England with high or very high housing needs; the potential to include affordable and teacher housing will be considered on a case-by-case basis.”

Importantly, school playing fields will be protected, while any decisions on land sales would ultimately be left to schools and landowners.

A number of barriers exist to the plans too, namely funding constraints and a desire to ensure that members of teaching staff are not tied to a school because of accommodation.

Ms Newman recognised a number of challenges in 2018 and said that LocatEd is working to find potential solutions.