The 2020 Housing Delivery Test: Has your council lost its planning powers?

What is the Housing Delivery Test?


The Housing Delivery Test is an annual measurement of housing delivery in the area of relevant plan-making authorities (non-metropolitan districts, metropolitan boroughs, London boroughs and development corporations with plan-making and decision-making powers).

The Housing Delivery Test is a percentage measurement of the number of net homes delivered against the number of homes required, as set out in the relevant strategic policies for the areas covered by the Housing Delivery Test, over a rolling three-year period.

From the day following publication of the Housing Delivery Test measurement, where delivery of housing has fallen below the housing requirement, certain policies set out in the National Planning Policy Framework will apply. Depending on the level of delivery, these are:


  • the authority should publish an action plan if housing delivery falls below 95%;

  • a 20% buffer on the local planning authority’s 5-year land supply if housing delivery falls below 85%; and

  • application of the presumption in favour of sustainable development if housing delivery falls below 75%


These consequences apply concurrently, for example those who fall below 85% should produce an action plan as well as the 20% buffer. The consequences will continue to apply until the subsequent Housing Delivery Test measurement is published. The relevant consequence for any under-delivery will then be applied. Should delivery meet or exceed 95%, no consequences will apply.


The Presumption in favour of Sustainable Development


The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out government's planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied. It is the foundation on which local authority development plans are based. It states that:


(d) where there are no relevant development plan policies, or the policies which are most important for determining the application are out-of-date, permission should be granted unless:


i. the application of policies in the NPPF that protect areas or assets of particular importance provides a clear reason for refusing the development proposed; or


ii. any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole.


The term ‘out-of-date’ includes, for applications involving the provision of housing, situations where the Housing Delivery Test indicates that the delivery of housing was substantially below (less than 75% of) the housing requirement over the previous 3 years.


As such, if your local authority failed to deliver at least 75% of their housing requirement then their local planning policies are considered to be out-of-date and planning permission should be approved where an application accords to the policies contained within the NPPF.


How did your council perform in the 2020 HDT?


The housing delivery results showing the Housing Delivery Test: 2020 measurement (Column K) can be downloaded from the government website here.