Monday, 16 February 2015

OAN - The Numbers Game

This piece by Simon Coop at NLP very nicely anticipates the publication next week of the 2012-based sub-national household projections (SNHP), which, as Simon states, are expected to demonstrate a lower level of future household change when compared to previous projections.
Given that the SNHP will project forward the demographic and household formation trends that were experienced between 2007 and 2012, this lower level of change should not surprise anybody, and Simon's piece makes the point that they should not be taken at face value.
In planning terms, the SNHP do not provide a definitive position in relation to future housing need, and the national PPG requires DCLG household projections to provide only the starting point for the assessment of housing need.
This is election season though and, whilst Simon makes the point that a lower level of change in the SNHP might 'threaten the abilities' of pro-development politicians to make good on a commitment to increase the supply of housing, I would be more concerned about anti-development politicians making the SNHP both the starting point and the finishing point for the assessment of housing need. 
Increasing the supply of housing is an easier thing for an MP on a national platform to commit to than a councillor on a local platform. Given that it is at the local level now where objective assessments of need are defined it is here where the numbers game is played out and I would wage that there will be more politicians pleased for an opportunity to keep a local plan in the long grass than there are politicians worried about their committment to increase supply.
In fact, the reaction to the SNHP will be a good test of the reality that lies behind political rhetoric. If you hear a politician, of any colour and at any level, acknowledge that that SNHP should not be taken at face value and are, in any event, just a starting point, then you will know that they a) understand the planning process and b) are comfortable with the idea of new homes being built in their area. If you hear a politician say that the SNHP mean that the LPA in their local area should take the opportunity to revise housebuilding targets downwards then you will know what they really think...

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