My Department is currently finalising an updated draft of the Development Plan Guidelines to assist local authorities in reviewing their development plans. It has been necessary to first prioritise issuing other Section 28 Guidelines, including with regard to apartment development further to review of co-living. It has also been necessary, given the critical importance of housing, to develop and issue new Section 28 guidance on housing demand and supply, to ensure and consistent and integrated national approach to housing projections at local authority level, in advance of completing and issuing updated county development plan guidance.
In relation to housing demand and supply, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) published a report on Regional Demographics and Structural Housing Demand at a County Level in December 2020, that has been commissioned as part of my Department’s ongoing research programme with the ESRI. The research provides a robust, up-to-date and independently developed housing demand projection, to inform policy and investment with regard to housing at national and local levels.
The ESRI projection model and paper are now the definitive source of information for Government, in the context of regular and often divergent estimates of housing demand from multiple sources. This research has been applied to underpin both the development plan and housing strategy processes at local authority level and forms the basis on which housing supply target requirements were issued to each local authority as Section 28 guidance, last December.
This comprises the ‘Housing Supply Target Methodology for Development Planning, Guidelines for Planning Authorities’ under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) to provide a national methodology for each planning authority to estimate an overall housing supply target for their development plan, that is consistent with adopted national and regional growth targets in the National Planning Framework and Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies.
The housing supply target is quantified as an overall number of housing units to be planned for in the development plan process of each local authority. The guidelines issued provide a clear and consistent path for local authorities to progress county and city development plans, particularly in relation to future housing development. My Department continues to actively engage with local authorities on the application of this methodology in relation to individual county/city development plan processes.
National Policy Objective 37 of the National Planning Framework requires that each local authority should undertake a "Housing Need and Demand Assessment" (HNDA), to support the preparation of their statutory housing strategy and their development plan. Work to support the development of the HNDA process is advancing and this work includes the development of a HNDA digital tool that has been piloted with a number of local authorities from November 2020 to date. The outcome of the pilot phase is currently being reviewed in tandem with the update of key input data, and when finalised and rolled out nationally in the coming months, will be accompanied by a methodology in respect of the completion of a Housing Need and Demand Assessment.
It is important from a city and county development plan perspective that the housing demand and supply figures and methodology that were issued as Section 28 guidelines last December, share the same underlying statistical basis with the total housing demand and supply parameters to be used within the HNDA tool at local authority level. The housing supply target and HNDA parameters are therefore consistent.
I am satisfied that given the integrated approach being taken, local authorities have sufficient guidance and support to progress review of their development plans, appropriate to the stage of the process that they are at.