The councils that are being sanctioned under the 2019 housing delivery test

Eight local authorities, including the City of London, will be subject to the housing delivery test's most severe penalty, the National Planning Policy Framework's (NPPF's) presumption in favour of sustainable development, according to the latest test results just published.

MHCLG: housing delivery test results published
MHCLG: housing delivery test results published

In total, one third of all authorities will be subject to a sanction under the latest delivery test results, which was introduced in July 2018's revised NPPF.

Published this morning by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the 2019 test covers the years 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.

The test applies sanctions to all local planning authorities that, in the three years up to the preceding April, failed to meet 95 per cent of their housing requirement, with the severity of the sanction varying according to the extent of the underperformance.

Under its criteria, all authorities delivering under 95 per cent of their housing requirement have to produce an action plan detailing the reasons why they are under-delivering and how they will address them. 

Those under 85 per cent of their requirement are required to add a 20 per cent buffer to their five-year housing land supply requirement, instead of the usual five per cent buffer.

Meanwhile, the worst performers - those under 45 per cent - face the NPPF's presumption in favour of sustainable development, which renders their local planning policies for housing out of date and leaves them vulnerable to speculative applications.

This threshold rises to 75 per cent when the next test results are published in November 2020. 

While last year's results, the first ever to be published, showed no councils facing the presumption penalty (which last year was lower, at 25 per cent), today's results show that eight authorities fall into this category.

They are (see table below), in ascending order of test result: the City of London, the London Borough of Havering, Thanet in Kent, Eastbourne, Three Rivers in Hertfordshire, New Forest in Hampshire, Basildon in Essex and North Hertfordshire. All of them are in London, the South East or East of England.

Meanwhile, 83 councils, including the eight above, have delivered under 85 per cent, which means they have to now add a 20 per cent buffer to their land supply.

A total of 109 authorities, including the 83 above, come under 95 per cent, and will now have to produce an action plan.

It means that exactly 66 per cent of councils have this year escaped any penalty at all.   

The figures are very similar to last year's results, which saw 86 councils come under 85 per cent and 108 under 95 per cent.

In comparison, research by Planning in December found that the same eight authorities, in almost exactly the same order, would face the presumption penalty. In total, Planning found that 112 authorities would be below the 95 per cent threshold and 83 below 85 per cent.

At the time, a City of London spokeswoman told Planning that the corporation is on course to "deliver housing targets in the city in accordance with our local plan aims for the period to 2026". But she added that it is also consulting on a new draft City Plan "which sets out how we will meet higher targets up to 2036".

The 2019 test was due to be published in November 2019 but was postponed as a result of the general election.


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