Monitoring the delivery of a plan has always been an important way of reviewing and improving the way policies can improve the way development contributes to the success of people and places.
The Housing Delivery Test
In November 2018 we expect the introduction of a "Housing Delivery Test" as part of the new National Planning Policy Framework. It sets out a standard approach to measuring how well the delivery of homes is going, and creates a series of consequences on councils for failing the test.
We are part way through a programme of work with our suppliers Hyas to establish how the test works in practise, and how councils should prepare and respond to its introduction. These materials are a work in progress, and we expect them to improve as we test them with more people.
The mechanics of the Housing Delivery Test (HDT)
The details of how the HDT will work will be published in a new National Planning Policy Guidance (NPPG) document, or a stand-alone Housing Delivery Test Rulebook.
We made a presentation and a datatable containing an approximate model of how it might work as part of our work supporting the NPPF consultation. You can find this work on our "past events" page but remember it represented our understanding at that point in time.
The HDT works by comparing how many homes have been delivered over the previous three years to the number of homes required. Councils that deliver 95% or less have to complete an Action Plan. The process of making an Action Plan was described in a draft NPPG published alongside the draft NPPF, so the final details are still to be published. Whatever the details, it seems likely that many councils will need to go through the Action Plan process towards the end of 2018.
Preparing an effective Action Plan
It is always for each council to consider what a relevant and proportional approach means for them, given their local circumstances and issues. Nontheless we believe that a checklist and overview help to set out the basics of the task, and provide an external 'second opinion' against which the council can check itself.
What does a good Action Plan look like?
We are working with some pilot councils to work up some 'real' Action Plans. It is important that they add value, don't require too much work to make and maintain and that they minimise the risk of unforseen consequences.
In the interim we have made a template of an action plan and set out what its contents might include.
The draft NPPG suggests that the report should be supported by a detailed evidence base. It may be that there is some read-across between the evidence required to support an Annual Position Statement on 5 year land supply and the approach to be taken to support an Action Plan. It could also be the case that some of the work underway by the Future Cities Catapult to derive a set of standard data standards and schemas would lead naturally to this evidence base being published in a machine-readable way.
For now, here is a basic table in which to publish the data with sample headings. Again - we expect to improve and change this table when we have road-tested it more.
We would expect the council to require a data collection and review process at a more detailed level. Here is one version of a spreadsheet that combines some of the approaches from our pilots:
Our early work with pilots on the Housing Delivery Test
We are very grateful to the five councils who helped us work out the first principles of the Action Plan process, and for the larger working party that helped us frame our thinking on the Housing Delivery Test more generally.
Thanks to our network of helpful peers and practitioners we produced some "early findings" from our set of regional workshops:
We held a "wash up" event in March for our pilots where we shared and compared what we had learned from the process. Again, we are extremely grateful for the people who gave so freely of their time and experience.
These outputs from the pilot will be rendered out of date once the final guidance and policy has been published, but they may be of some use in the interim.
In Autumn 2017 we asked a small group of councils how they went about plan monitoring, and whether there were any "top tips" for how to approach this task. Unfortunately there are no short-cuts - it requires commitment and resourcing, as well as having the right people in the team.
Many years ago in 2010 we published a case study on Annual Monitoring Reports which looked at some of the basics of communicating progress clearly to a non-planning audience. While some of the details and language has changed since, the basic principles remain the same.