Housing Delivery Test

Eight Local Planning Authorities now subject to 'Tilted Balance'.

Last month, official figures were published showing that eight local planning authorities delivered less than 45% of their required housing over the past three years, activating the ‘Tilted Balance’, also known as the ‘Presumption in Favour’.

This therefore means that housing proposals will be considered with a strong predisposition toward approval, regardless of any policy conflicts at a local level.

Chris Marsh, Senior Planner explains this latest development and implications for developers within these areas.

The Housing Delivery Test was introduced with the July 2018 revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework with the intention of providing a swift policy mechanism for redressing under-delivery. The changes provided a certain grace period before the implications took effect, affording Councils gradated delivery thresholds introduced over time to allow them to shore up their delivery of sites. Those that fell below 45% of their required numbers for November 2019, however, now face the Presumption with immediate effect.

Published figures now indicate that eight local authorities – Havering, Thanet, Eastbourne, Three Rivers, Basildon, North Hertfordshire, New Forest and the City of London – fell below this threshold, with figures as low as 32% (City of London), while both Basildon and North Herts narrowly missed at 44% delivery. Many other local authorities fell in the range of 45-95% delivery, meaning they will have to urgently either review their Local Plans with a 20% supply ‘buffer’, or prepare suitable Action Plans demonstrating how they intend to address their respective shortfalls.

The challenge for those local authorities doesn’t stop there; as time goes on the trigger for the “Tilted Balance” will continue to ratchet upwards, setting the delivery bar at 75% for the November 2020 reporting date. In many of these areas of ever-increasing housing demand and, often, where development is resisted at a public and political level, this presents a considerable difficulty for Councils and an opportunity for developers – albeit one that doesn’t guarantee certainty of success.

It should be noted that this – as ever – does not amount to a wave-through of all residential development proposals but rather shifts their primary consideration from the Local Plan to the National Planning Policy Framework within the affected authority areas. Therefore, restrictive national policies will continue to apply as, of course, will statutory controls such as environmental legislation.

Chris Marsh is a Senior Planner at Evans Jones. To discuss the impact of the Housing Delivery Test on your residential proposals or any other planning matter, contact Chris or any other member of the planning team.