Budget 2017: Government to 'strengthen' housing delivery test

The government is to consult on measures 'strengthening' the housing white paper's housing delivery test so that, from 2020, the presumption in favour of sustainable development would apply in districts where delivery falls below 75 per cent of the local housing requirement, it has been announced.

New homes: fresh planning changes on the way
New homes: fresh planning changes on the way

The housing delivery test, set out in February’s housing white paper, is intended to assess housing delivery - measured using official figures for net additional dwellings over a three-year period - against councils’ housing requirements.

Initial sanctions set out in the February white paper would see councils falling beneath certain thresholds required to produce an action plan (additions below 95 per cent of housing requirement), or plan for an additional 20 per cent buffer on their housing land supply (additions below 85 per cent).

Tougher sanctions set out in the white paper would later see the presumption in favour of sustainable development apply when delivery fell beneath certain thresholds. The white paper had proposed that, from November 2020, the presumption in favour of sustainable development would apply if delivery falls below 65 per cent of the housing requirement.

But a document published alongside today’s Budget, said that the government will consult on "strengthening the housing delivery test with tougher consequences where planned homes are not being built, by setting the threshold at which the [National Planning Policy Framework’s] presumption in favour of development applies at 75 per cent of housing delivery by 2020".

The document also said that the government is to also consult on measures which would make local authorities bring forward 20 per cent of their housing supply as small sites.

It also says that the government will speed up the development process "by removing the exemptions from the deemed discharge rules". The document said that this "will get builders on site more quickly, ensuring that development is not held back by delays in discharging planning conditions".

Elsewhere, the document said that the government is to set up a review panel, chaired by Tory MP Sir Oliver Letwin, "to explain the signifIcant gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permissioned, and make recommendations for closing it". The review will provide an interim report in time for Spring Statement 2018 and a full report at Budget 2018, the document said.

In his Budget speech, chancellor Philip Hammond said that if the review finds "that vitally needed land is being withheld from the market for commercial, rather than technical, reasons ... will intervene to change the incentives to ensure such land is brought forward for development". 

The government is also to "develop a central register of residential planning permissions from local authorities to improve information on where permissions are held and progress towards them being built out".

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