The latest results for the annual Housing Delivery Test (HDT) were made available last week. The HDT requires councils to deliver a set number of houses in line with adopted requirements. Those who do not meet these targets incur penalties of increasing severity depending on the degree of their failure. Rapleys have reviewed the latest figures, and provide the following analysis.

The HDT requires councils to have met their cumulative housing requirement over the past three years, with the results recorded as a percentage (where 100% indicates that delivery is exactly equal to the requirement). Failure incurs consequences. Local authorities may be required to publish a Housing Delivery Action Plan (all results below 95%), apply a 20% buffer to their Five Year Housing Land Supply calculations (all results below 85%), or – in the most extreme circumstances – be subject to the presumption in favour of sustainable development (all results below 45%).

Last year’s results, published in February 2019, did not apply the presumption to any Council. However, the stringency with which the HDT is applied has increased over the period 2019-2021; as the test becomes more demanding local authorities are finding it harder to keep heads above water. This year, eight authorities are subject to the presumption: Basildon, City of London, Eastbourne, Havering, New Forest, North Hertfordshire, Thanet and Three Rivers. In total, 81 authorities are required to apply a 20% buffer to their housing supply (including the eight authorities listed above).

For those who are subject to the presumption, and therefore the ‘tilted balance’, it will be harder to justify refusal of planning applications. For those required to apply a 20% buffer to their supply calculations, they will find it harder to maintain a demonstrable five year supply. Authorities who are unable to demonstrate adequate levels of both delivery and supply, find themselves impaled by both of the presumption’s twinned horns.

This year has certainly given teeth to the government’s latest initiative to increase the rate of housebuilding across England and we expect next year’s results to show a substantive increase in the number of authorities subject to the presumption as the bar will rise from 45% to 75%.

Rapleys has experience in providing detailed, evidence-based analyses of housing positions in authorities up and down the country. This expertise, taking into account the latest HDT results, is able to identify the severity of present circumstances (and likely future positions) for the next five year period and beyond. Using this research, we can help to advise you of promising opportunities in the short, medium and the long term.



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