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New Assessment for Local Housing Needs

The Housing White Paper published in February this year proposed changes to the planning system with the aim of making it easier for Local Authorities to bring forward their local plans and help to supply housing to meet the demand. The long awaited consultation on further measures to help boost the supply is open until the 9th November 2017 and covers a number of proposals to improve the current planning system.

These proposals include:

  • a standard method for calculating local authorities’ housing need
  • helping neighbourhood planning groups with the level of housing they need to plan for
  • a statement of common ground to improve how local authorities work together to meet housing and other needs across boundaries
  • making the use of viability assessments simpler, quicker and clearer
  • increasing planning application fees

The New ‘Standard’ Methodology

The new standard methodology for calculating local authority’s housing need starts with household projections for the area and then applies fixed bands of uplift based on local house prices and work place earnings.

At a national level, Government identifies that 266,000 homes a year that should be built within the next 5 years in order to meet the current housing shortage.

Below is a summary of the Government’s initial assessment of housing numbers in the region compared to the current Plan numbers:







The new methodology will apply to all future local plans apart from those that will have been submitted to an inspector before 31st March 2018.  This new figure will be fixed for a period of 2 years, even if the underlying projections and affordability data changes. Amongst others, this methodology could apply to York, Sunderland, Northumberland, Harrogate, Hartlepool and Durham who have no adopted Local Plan and are unlikely to submit a plan to the Inspector in time.

This also means that the new approach will apply for all appeals (e.g. the five year housing land supply) and local plans after 31st March 2018 or immediately when the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is published whichever is the later.

Statements of Common Ground

The new NPPF will include a policy requirement for Local Authorities to produce a ‘statement of common ground’ across their district within 12 months with an outline in place within 6 months. This encourages ‘effective joint working’ between Council’s where planning issues go beyond the individual authorities setting out how they intend to work together to meet housing needs that cut across boundaries. This is to help with Plan ‘soundness’ and reduce the time in putting plans in place. Failure to cooperate may trigger Government intervention in Plan making.

Neighbourhood Plan Making

Neighbourhood Planning was introduced under the Localism Act 2011 as a tool for local people to guide the future development of their area. Within the new changes proposed, local communities will continue to plan future housing need within their area.

The Government proposes that all authorities give neighbourhood planning groups a housing figure to work with either through a Local Plan or through a simple apportionment of their own housing need figure.

Increase in Planning Fees

The Government is also keen to increase planning application fees by 20%. This is intended to address the problem of under resourced local planning authorities.

Generally if the Housing Need Methodology is adopted as per the current consultation, it will reduce the supply of land needed in the North of the country.  We believe that this will be a threat to those with housing land and would recommend an early review of any opportunities which you might be pursuing.  If you believe you have land which might be affected by these changes, or would like more information on the development process, please contact:

[team-member name=”Calum Gillhespy”]

[team-member name=”Chris Thyer”]

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