New database of Local Housing Need figures

by Ed Dade

Posted on June 16, 2020

I have developed a new online database which calculates Local Housing Need figures for all local authority areas.

The Local Housing Need Database is free to use and requires no registration.

What is Local Housing Need?

Local Housing Need (LHN) is the government's standard approach for determining the number of new homes which should be built in each local planning authority area.

LHN applies to the district / borough level and informs the setting of Local Plan targets. It also has indirect consequences for Neighbourhood Plans. For example, the LHN figure will likely have some influence on how local authorities set housing requirements for individual Neighbourhood Areas. It may also affect how the presumption in favour of sustainable development is applied through the decision-making process. For those writing Neighbourhood Plans, it may be helpful to have a broad understanding of the concept of LHN and be reasonably familiar with the figure for your local authority area.

The LHN figure is normally expressed as an annual figure i.e. the number of new homes which should be built per year.

How is the Local Housing Need Calculated?

The government's standard method calculates LHN using two separate datasets from the Office for National Statistics - household growth projections published in 2014, adjusted to take account of current local affordability using the latest 'median workplace-based affordability ratios'.

New affordability ratio data is published annually. Therefore, unless it has been fixed through the Local Plan process, the Local Housing Need figure can change each year.

Purpose of the Local Housing Need database

On publishing new affordability ratio data, the ONS archive data from the previous year. The revised dataset frequently makes retrospective changes to the affordability ratio in previous years. It can therefore be tricky to keep a handle on the current LHN figure, and those from previous years - as this involves referring to archived data sources to perform the calculation.

My motivation for developing the Local Housing Need Database was to maintain an accurate record of the continually changing LHN figure for each local authority area. I often find I need to look this data up for my own purposes. By placing the database on my website means others can benefit from this information too.

A few words of caution

The Local Housing Need Database is intended to serve as a 'quick reference'. For example, the Local Housing Need figure will inform the preparation of Local Plans, and may be taken into account when determining appeals, etc. However, it is advisable to contact the local authority to determine the precise details of their housing requirement.

Crucially, the Local Housing Need figure shown in the Local Housing Need database is not necessarily the current housing target for the local authority. For example, the LHN figures may not apply where:

  • The local authority has an up-to-date Local Plan in place, meaning its housing target is 'fixed' for a period of five years
  • The LHN figure results in an increase of more than 40% of the requirement set by existing policies - in which place the figure should be capped
  • There are exceptional circumstances which require the figure to be adjusted
  • Geographies have changed since the 2014 household growth projections were published - for example through the formation of new local authorities.

Granted, this is a fairly niche topic and is somewhat tenuously connected to neighbourhood planning - but hopefully the database will be of use for others, and I can rest happy knowing I have a record of how the LHN has changed over time.

To launch the Local Housing Need Database, click the button below.

Launch Local Housing Need Database →

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