Many English councils believe the National Planning Policy Framework's (NPPF) viability test is harming their ability to deliver more social and affordable housing, a new survey has revealed.

According to the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) and APSE, 53 per cent of local authorities in England feel the test has had a negative impact. Only 14 per cent of those polled said they think it has been a help. 

The TCPA and APSE have therefore called on the government to change the process and "reframe the viability test in a more balanced way".

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the TCPA, said the new government has an "enormous opportunity to help ensure councils can once again play a full and active role in planning, delivering and managing social and affordable homes".

However, she stated that this requires "strong political leadership", as well as a progressive planning framework that genuinely empowers councils and reverses recent deregulatory changes.

Paul O'Brien, chief executive of APSE, added that the impact of the lack of supply of social housing on market rents should not be underestimated.

He warned that this is adding pressure to both central and local government finances. As a result, Mr O'Brien believes an "ambitious programme of bringing new social housing schemes to fruition" is needed to rebalance the market.

Local councils must be "at the heart of delivering new high quality and affordable homes for rent", he continued. However, Mr O'Brien said this can only be achieved if the Westminster government shares this ambition.