A Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government spokesperson has announced that councils should immediately start using the government’s new standard method for assessing housing need when determining applications.
Additionally, if a local authority cannot show an up-to-date local plan the standardised methodology should now be used for analysing housing land supply positions.
The standardised methodology was intended to remove prolonged debates around housing need during local plan examinations and thereby speed up the delivery of housing. Annex 1 of the revised NPPF at paragraph 214 notes that for the purpose of examining plans, those which are submitted on or before 24 January 2019 the policies in the previous Framework will apply.
This does not however apply to decision making which, as set out in paragraph 212, “the policies in this Framework are material considerations which should be taken into account in dealing with applications from the day of its publication.” The MHCLG spokesperson confirms that the standard method, should now “apply to decision-making, with application from the date of publication.”
Therefore, local authorities without up-to-date local plans should now be utilising the standardised methodology for the calculation of their five-year housing land supply. This is to incentivise local authorities to ensure that their local plans are up to date.
However, despite pushing for local authorities to use the standard methodology, the spokesperson cautioned the use of the figures released September 2017 which represented the indicative local housing need figures, emphasising that the figures were an example of how the formula worked at the time and the most up to date figures are yet to be realised.
As such there is no indication of what this might mean for local authorities’ figures. This may leave many local authorities uncertain of what they should be using to determine their housing land supply figures leading to further confusion and likely debate on the topic.