Tibbalds, with colleagues at Housing Vision, has undertaken research into the way that local plan housing targets are calculated. Set against the backdrop of a growth agenda and the drive to get local plans adopted by 2017, establishing housing targets and, consequently, the location of where new housing should go, is crucial to a successful plan-led system, the making and sustaining of good places.
The research found that current guidance on the calculation of ‘objectively assessed housing need’ requires greater clarity, particularly in relation to:
- clearer guidance on methodological approaches and sources: current guidance is limited, confusing and ambiguous;
- definitional terminology to be reviewed and clarified: housing need is frequently confused with housing demand;
- a more strategic perspective: across housing market areas and local authority boundaries;
- a counter-balance to top-down ‘predict and provide’ approaches: capable of finer-grained local analysis of housing needs;
- supply-side factors to be taken fully into account: including land supply; delivery potential and financial viability;
- more dynamic housing market models to be developed: which are capable of reflecting changing housing circumstances; and
- ‘rural proofing’ of SHMAs: for example, undertaking ‘rural impact assessments’ of findings.
The local plan process has lengthened since the introduction of the NPPF as authorities grapple with the implications of housing and land supply policies. With the 2017 deadline for local plans fast approaching it is critical that the process for calculating housing growth becomes clearer. The recently announced review of the NPPF provides an opportunity for changes to be made. And as the move towards devolution gathers pace there is a very real opportunity to marry strategic thinking with local dynamics, linking housing growth and development choices with employment and infrastructure investment.
Notes: The research, ’Smarter SHMAs: A Review of Objectively Assessed Need in England’ was commissioned by the CPRE and published in November 2015. It includes a critique of the method and guidance, case studies and interviews with industry experts and practitioners.
The report is available for download here: Smarter SHMAs: A Review of Objectively Assessed Need in England (2.8MB PDF)