The importance of a five-year land supply

The need for new housing to be built has been referred to as a national crisis, and successive governments have fallen short in meeting projected demand from population growth and the formation of new households.  Whilst district councils decide on permission for specific house-building projects, it is the Government which draws up the population and household projections which each district must use to determine how many houses it needs over 15-year periods.  These should be set out in local planning documents which ensure sufficient land is made available for the right number of houses to be built in each area.


This is often a slow process, however, and to address issues of shortfall, national planning policy requires each district to maintain a rolling stock of planning consents for house-building and to allocate land that will fulfil their requirements for the following five years.  This information is used to assess how well councils are preparing for future need.


Where councils fall short of providing a five-year supply of planning consents, national guidance states that policies which restrict development in certain areas should be temporarily set aside, with planning applications for new housing to be assessed on their merits and the likelihood of being built within the next five years.


This means that where a local council is not providing sufficient land for new houses, land owners and developers can often bring forward development earlier than might otherwise have been consented.


It is also often overlooked that councils’ annual targets for house-building are clearly set out as minimum targets.  The Government recognises the need to provide new housing for a growing population, and the potential impact that a housing shortfall can have on the wider economy and local communities.


In addition to the rolling five-year housing land supply requirement, in 2018 the Government introduced a new housing delivery test which measures how successful the three previous years of housebuilding have been.  Where a council has not supported the building of enough new houses, they must introduce new plans and short-term strategies to increase house building in their district.


Also, land for development on previously developed sites can now be secured more simply through the brownfield register, which gives a general consensus to planning permission on such sites.  For undeveloped land however, the district’s situation regarding the five-year land supply and housing delivery test provides a key indicator of the need for new housing and likely future projected scope for developing land in the plan or through a planning application.


JWPC have successfully supported landowners and developers in promoting development in the short, medium and long term, through site allocations in local plans, planning application, or at appeals.

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