The results of the Housing Delivery Test were published in February. Local Planning Authorities sent figures to the Government for the last 3 years setting out the number of homes completed in their areas against their housing targets.
The majority of Councils in the Midlands met the target. However, seven failed. These were Derbyshire Dales (93%), Tamworth (86%), Melton (84%), Chesterfield (66%), Erewash (66%), Staffordshire Moorlands (64%) and Sandwell (61%).
Councils with between 85% and 99% delivery have to produce an Action Plan that sets out the measures the Council will take to boost the delivery of homes in their areas. This could include extra funding for affordable housing to increase the speed of delivery and incentivise builders; it could also include support for smaller builders using the government’s House Building Fund.
For Councils delivering between 25% and 85%; these councils must increase their housing target by 20%. This means allocating or granting planning permission for new housing sites; so, if a council must delivery 300 homes a year, the target is increased to 360 homes a year.
The housing delivery test measures housing completions. A completed house is a property with a Building Regulations Completion Certificate or a property that is ready for occupation today. Evidence has emerged from at least 1 council in Derbyshire that this strict definition is not being followed. The Council is assessing completions as homes which have a roof, walls and windows, weathertight but not completed. This inflates figures and includes properties to first fix, those held by builders, until a buyer has been found. These properties may not be ready for occupation for perhaps 3 or 6 months and should not be counted as completed. If this approach is being adopted more widely then the completion figures have been inflated, allowing councils to avoid providing more housing land, potentially limiting development and reducing the supply of housing to local communities.
The Housing Delivery Test is a difficult concept for Councils because they are not usually house builders; but the test exposes poor delivery by all parties in the house building industry and the Housing Delivery Test could become as important to the construction industry as the 5-year housing land supply.