I hope everyone had a happy #happynationalhousingstatsicticsday on the 25th Nov. I spent it reviewing the net completions data for councils which is essentially the net number of homes built between 1st April 2019 and 31st March 2020. That’s important to know because the figures don’t yet reflect the impact the pandemic is having on the construction industry and housing market; in fact they show that nationally the number of homes built increased by 1% from the previous year. So delivery has improved but for how long?
Anyway, the reason I was reviewing spreadsheets was to try and use the number of homes built in 2019/20 to predict what everyone’s Housing Delivery Test 2020 result will be. To be clear -Government haven’t yet published the official Housing Delivery Test 2020 measurement or announced when they are expected so I was geeking out on spreadsheets all for my own fun. The Housing Delivery Test (HDT) uses the number of homes built against the housing requirement for the last 3 years; so now I know everyone’s number of homes built for the last 3 years I’ve got half of the equation and should be able to work out their result. Simple yeah, urmm not quite – the other half of the equation is a bit more tricky. Predicting the correct housing requirement figures for the last 3 years is more problematic as it involves a mixture of the transitional arrangements and either the figure from an adopted plan or the standard method calculations! Its maths upon maths! So for predicting the anticipated 2020 results here’s how it goes
Year 1 – Last year of transitional arrangements as set out in the Housing Delivery Test Rule Book which are based on the 2014 household populations projections.
Year 2 – either the figure from an adopted plan which is less than 5yrs old or the standard method figure whichever is the lower
Year3 – either the figure from an adopted plan which is less than 5yrs old or the standard method figure whichever is the lower
If only it were that simple but there are other factors at play here – for example is an LPA taking unmet need from another area which would increase their figure? is there a stepped housing requirement in their plan? or does their plan turn 5 in 2019/20 and so will be a mixture of adopted figure and standard method based on the number of days in the year the plan remains less than 5yrs old?
Despite this minefield I had a go at working out what everyone’s HDT result might be and the results aren’t pretty. There are potentially over 120 councils who will be facing sanctions from the test this year all of which will need to produce an Action Plan. Over the summer PAS updated their guide on Producing an Effective Action Plan so if you need to produce one I strongly recommend you check it out.
Of the 120 (ish) around 70 will be facing the application of presumption of sustainable development for a 12month period or until the 2021 HDT measurement is published. This is a significant jump from the 9 councils in presumption from the 2019 HDT result and will involve councils over a wide geographical spread. Its also likely to involve some of the ‘good guys’ with both an up-to-date plan and a heathy land supply but due to delivery issues in 2017-2020 will be in presumption territory. This highlights to me the importance of predicting future HDT performance accurately so councils are forewarned of heading towards presumption and this will be something PAS will focus on as part of the HDT 2020 support in the new year. The interplay of having a current plan, whether there’s a pipeline of supply and whether delivery rates are sufficient are the holy trinity of navigating presumption territory.
The three things all interact with each other as a cycle around falling into presumption and being able to understand and forecast each side is becoming more and more important. I’m going to be developing my thinking on this interaction and how to think about predicting delivery and land supply in the new year, with that in mind PAS are looking for willing guinea pigs, urm I mean councils, who may want to get involved in ‘project land supply’ so if you are interested sign up to our event on the 18th December here.
For those facing presumption as a result of HDT 2020, whenever they get published, PAS will be offering our support and we will announce some events in the new year focusing on how good decision making is key when the presumption is applied and more generally how to deal with the application in both development management and policy terms.
This other thing I’ve been grappling with this week is needs assessments and what role they play in the world of standard methods and proposed binding figures. Now councils no longer have to generate an Objectively Assessed Need via a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) what is the future of housing needs and assessing the right type of homes needed going to look like. I don’t know – but I’m going to have a stab at it!
I’ve looked at dozens of different SHMA’s and needs assessment which all contain very similar datasets, most of which are readily found via ONS, NOMIS or the Census. Surely there must be a way to use this publicly available data for councils so they can procure an off the shelf analysis giving contextual information about the area, changes in population trends, local job market etc..
Wouldn’t it be great if councils could then bung in their own data from things like monitoring records and the housing needs register to then combine it with this standardised data approach to generate a simple and readable needs assessment. All packaged up with data visualisations and infographics – a needs assessment based on reliable data but at 30 pages not 300 that everyone, including the communities whose needs are being assessed could understand. The utopian data dream – I’ll be blogging on this as the project gets up and running.