Sharp rise in councils not publishing up-to-date housing land supply statements, conference told

The number of English councils not publishing an up-to-date five-year housing land supply assessment shot up from four per cent in 2016 to 18 per cent in 2019, research by consultancy WSP | Indigo has found.

Ben Frodsham (left) and Simon Neate of WSP | Indigo at yesterday's Planning for Housing Conference
Ben Frodsham (left) and Simon Neate of WSP | Indigo at yesterday's Planning for Housing Conference

Speaking yesterday at Planning's Planning for Housing conference, Simon Neate, executive director, and Ben Frodsham, associate director, set out the firm's new research examining English local authority housing land supply position documents.

The research, which looked at all 340 English local planning authorities, found that 18 per cent of councils have no up-to-date five-year housing land supply position - up from four per cent when similar research was carried out in 2016.

Neate said the firm believed the reason for the drop was that more local planning authorities "lack confidence in their calculations following the changes introduced by the latest version of the NPPF and, probably more significantly, some are afraid that publishing an assessment showing they don’t have five years’ supply will encourage developers to make applications on the basis that the presumption in favour of sustainable development will then apply".

The research also found that 29 per cent of councils cannot demonstrate a five-year housing land supply - down from 45 per cent in 2016.

Some 54 per cent report a five-year housing land supply or more - of this, 22 per cent can demonstrate a five-year supply based on permissions alone. In 2016, the figures were 50 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.

The research found that the total number of homes stated in councils’ five-year housing land supplies has risen from 1,296,414 for the five-year period 2015/16-2020/21 to 1,320,092 for the five-year period 2019/20 - 2024/25.

This represented a 23,678-home (two per cent) increase in overall supply.

The study also found that the number of homes in housing land supplies with planning consent rose from from 744,673 in 2015/16–2020/21 to 827,288 in 2019/20–2024/25. This was a rise of 148,935 homes, or 11 per cent.

The actual number of homes delivered has risen from 189,127 in 2015/16 to 226,478 in 2017/18, the research found. This is a rise of 37,351 or 20 per cent over the period.

The firm said that, overall, the five year housing land supply for England as a whole is increasing, "but not by enough to achieve the government’s target of 300,000 per annum. Similarly, more homes are being granted permission – but it’s still not enough."

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