Testing Times for Housing Delivery

1st March 2019

The long-awaited results of the Housing Delivery Test have recently been published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MCHLG). The test, which was introduced by the 2018 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) aims to measure the rate at which new homes are created in a council’s area against the authority’s housing requirement over a three year period. The overall aim of the test is to make local authorities take greater responsibility for boosting housing delivery in line with Government’s objectives.

There are various consequences, depending on the degree of under-delivery, which do have considerable implications for local authorities and for the timing of planning applications.

The sanctions of under-delivery become stricter over time:

  • Under the 2018 test criteria, authorities only had to deliver 25% of their housing requirement over the three years between 2015/16 and 2017/18 to avoid the most stringent penalty. The penalty was that applications would be determined against the presumption in favour of sustainable development set out in the NPPF, rather than the local authority development plan policies. no local authority has failed to deliver to that extent this year.
  • The measure then increases to targetting those authorities achieving under 45% of delivery in the next assessment, which is due to be published in November 2019. Seven local authorities, including New Forest District Council, are currently at risk of failing to meet the next test.
  • The measure increases again to 75% in November 2020 and in subsequent years.

Any local authority that has delivered less than 85% of their housing requirement over the last three years has to add a 20% buffer to their housing land supply, which means that they have to demonstrate that they have a 6-year housing land supply rather than the standard 5-year housing land supply. There are 87 local authorities in that position who also have to prepare an action plan explaining how they are going to boost delivery. A few examples of these are City of London, Barking and Dagenham, Haringey, Basingstoke and Deane, Bracknell Forest, Milton Keynes, Elmbridge, Waverley, Guildford, Three Rivers, Poole, Bournemouth, West Devon and Christchurch.

Any Council delivering between 85% and 95% does not have to add a buffer to their supply but does have to produce an action plan.

The Government has also confirmed what the finalised standard method of calculating local housing need should be. This should be the 2014-based household projections, which give considerably higher housing numbers for many local authorities than the 2016-based household projections.

Please contact either Senior Principal Planner, Liz Alexander or Senior Planner, Tom Lawrence Bright if you would like bespoke advise on the implications of this for any of your schemes.

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