Neighbourhood plans - Advice on evidence - Topic one: Housing need example

This article was written a few years ago but it could still be useful for groups considering the specific issue of a lack of affordable market housing.

This is a common issue raised by communities, namely that there is a lack of market housing which first time buyers can access in the local area. As a result, young people who have grown up in the area are forced to move away in order to buy a property. There is therefore a wish to try and secure a certain proportion of market housing within developments which, as far as is possible, provides small, affordable starter homes. This example could equally apply to the need for private rented accommodation and the template tries to cover this as well.

It is important to be clear that this issue is distinct from any need for social housing or other type of affordable product, the purchase of which is not wholly funded through a mortgage or cash purchase.



Housing Need

Specific issues to be addressed

A lack of affordable market housing

What do neighbourhood groups have to be able to properly demonstrate with the evidence they collect in order to ensure that NP policy is robust?

  • That there is sufficient demand for a particular type of private market housing and this is unaffordable to local people. This may also be for a particular type of local person, e.g. young people.
  • To identify the particular type of housing that is in demand, e.g. 1- or 2-bed units, and the tenure, e.g. buy or rent.
  • That the current lack of provision is forcing local people to move out of the area in order to buy or rent property.
  • That certain proportions of provision of this type of housing (five per cent, 10 per cent, 20 per cent, etc) on developments over a certain size will not unduly compromise the viability of development.

What evidence do neighbourhood groups need to collect to help them demonstrate the issue and develop policy?

  • House prices (asking and sold prices) and rents – Land Registry, interviews with local estate agents and websites such as:



  • Incomes – Census 2011 (when available) and Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) as well as local surveys.
  • Level of household savings – can only be collected through a neighbourhood survey.
  • Potentially available sites and willingness of landowner/developer to bring forward a proportion of dwellings of a particular type – from the SHLAA.
  • Local developments under construction/for sale – evidence from sales literature and discussions with sales agents.
  • Local completions of properties within the last five years – by size and type of dwelling (if not possible to split down from LPA monitoring data). Can be collected either through a neighbourhood survey or – potentially only realistic in smaller communities – trawling of LPA planning histories.
  • Expected growth in population over the plan period (from population projections). From ONS population projections.

What questions should they ask (either through a survey or focus group, etc) in order to gather effective evidence?

Local residents

  • What is your current residential status, i.e. owner occupier, rent, live at home with parents?
  • What is your household income? (See advice provided in the ‘Caveat' at the start of this section)
  • How many people live in your household? What are their ages and in particular, what are the ages of those that provide the household income?
  • Do you currently rent or own your property? If you rent, then would you wish to own your property? If you own your property, then do you have a mortgage?
  • Why are you unable to purchase a property locally? What type of property are you seeking?

Those not currently living in the area (if they can be identified)

Would you like to live in this area? If yes, then does the cost of housing prevent you from doing so? Would you look to rent or to buy a property? What size of property would this be?

Estate agents

Would this type of housing be attractive in this location to those from outside the area? Do you have evidence of demand from people for these types of properties?

Private rented landlords

  • What type of housing is most popular for renters? What is the profile of these people?
  • What are the typical rents for the area?


  • Would you be willing to provide a certain proportion of housing of a particular type in your developments? If not, then why not? If yes, then what total number of dwellings would need to be permitted to enable you to deliver, say, 10 properties of the type we want?




What evidence have you got to help neighbourhoods demonstrate the issue and develop policy? - How useful is it for them? - Is it in a useable form?




Useable format?

Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA)


Affordable Housing Needs Assessment (which may address market housing)


Affordable Housing Viability Study (which may address market housing)


Local/District Housing Need Surveys


Local Housing Needs Register/Choice-Based Lettings Register


Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA)


Rural Exception sites – adopted policy and any Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) 


Monitoring data – number of planning permissions/completions by type of dwelling, size and location; building regulations data on completions


Core Strategy/Local Plan SA/SEA background information  

five-year supply of sites 


S106 viability appraisals on local schemes to support applications 


Community Infrastructure Levy viability appraisals


Local authority Council Tax band information


Population projections


Vacant property data


Planning application database