Will new proposals create the right homes in the right places?

20 September 2017

The Government proposes far reaching changes on housing numbers, but will they create the right homes in the right places? – asks Planning Potential Director, Stuart Slatter

Last week the Government released its consultation document setting out how it intends the proposed standard methodology for assessing housing need to operate.

Commentators have been focusing on the strong emphasis on affordability in calculating Objectively Assessed Need (OAN), with a formula derived to adjust the baseline figure (based on population projections) to consider local affordability factors.

Planning Potential note that the proposed formula is standard across the whole of the UK, which they anticipate will lead to a disparity between the north and south in respect of housing numbers. “The consequence is where house prices are (by factor) higher than average earnings,” explains Stuart Slatter. “the housing need and therefore allocations should increase. Whilst the devil is always in the detail, we share the view this will perpetuate a north south imbalance, and have to question if this will achieve the Government’s wider objectives.

“Our view is a greater level of finesse and regional consideration is required. The proposed methodology still suggests economic growth should be accounted for, but this almost seems an afterthought. Whilst we would encourage a standardised approach, it seems misconceived to follow an approach which increases the number of homes in expensive areas, presumably to the detriment of other poorer areas.”

Little has been reported about other initiatives within the consultation document, which of course goes further than just calculating need. The document:

  • makes passing reference to the fact that development plans will be out of date after five years.
  • provides the clearest signal yet that a revised National Planning Policy Framework will be published in Spring 2018  
  • mentions the implications of not having an up-to-date plan – meaning that land constraints cannot be used to reduce the baseline housing need.

Turning to Neighbourhood Planning, in instances where a development plan is out of date, Planning Potential supports the approach of apportioning the housing need for that neighbourhood plan – based on the Neighbourhood Planning Area and the baseline housing growth projections. Additionally, no reference is made to current Guidance on the ‘3-year land supply’ test, allowing Neighbourhood Plans to remain up to date for the purposes of NPPF para 49 assessment.

The consultation is far-reaching, and Planning Potential will continue to monitor the emerging position.

To discuss the implications of the consultation proposals in more detail, please contact Planning Potential’s housing specialists.