How many homes? The new Standard Method

How many homes? The new Standard Method

Standard method figures below have now been superseded
Click here for most up-to-date figures

The new 2020 Standard Method for Local Housing Need

The introduction of a standard method for assessing housing needs for planning purposes (first consulted on in 2017, then adopted in 2018) intended to shift time, resources and debate at examination away from the ‘numbers’ question and towards the ‘how’ and ‘where’ of building new homes. This method – which equated to a figure of around 266K per annum when launched – was based on the 2014-based Household Projections plus an uplift for affordability, subject to a ‘cap’.

In August 2020, the Government consulted on a proposed new Standard Method, which had a greater focus on affordability, the results of which were to boost the national figure to 337K, with most of the increases in the areas where the gap between house prices and incomes was greatest. This unleashed a political and media storm that led to the proposal being dubbed ‘the mutant algorithm’, and the Government indicated that it would be reviewing its draft proposals.

On 16th December 2020, the Government launched its solution: scrap its August proposals, revert back to the method it introduced in 2018, but with a modification to top up the number in the 20 largest cities and urban areas by 35%, reflecting Government objectives to, inter alia, drive housing into existing urban areas and encourage brownfield development.

You can read more about our thoughts on the changes – plus a regional analysis - in our blog here.

The Government helpfully published a spreadsheet containing the indicative figures from the new method on 16th December. To aid interpretation, Lichfields has reviewed these figures, addressed a small number of anomalies, and compiled into tables grouped by sub-regions and with additional data to enable comparison of the new figures with current local plans, recent rates of housing delivery, the original method and the ‘mutant algorithm’.

The figures from the Standard Method are minimum estimates of local housing need and are not binding housing requirements. Plan makers may set housing requirements greater than the Standard Method or provide for less housing, subject to the provisions of the NPPF. The White Paper – Planning for the Future – put forward proposals for Government to set binding housing requirement figures for individual local plans that would take into account supply, policy and environmental factors, but these provisions do not yet exist, and are unlikely to do so for some time.

For information on how we have calculated the figures, please click here





Birmingham and Coventry 


Bristol, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset


Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside


Cornwall, Devon and Dorset


Cumbria and Lancashire


East Anglia - Central and North




Hertfordshire and Essex





Leicestershire and Northamptonshire


Lincolnshire and Peterborough




Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire


North East



*Surrey Heath has been included as part of Hampshire rather than Surrey as the Council identifies itself as being in a Housing Market Area with Rushmoor and Hart (both in Hampshire).




Thames Valley


West Midlands (outside Birmingham and Coventry)


Yorkshire and The Humber


Current local plan requirements based on data collected by Lichfields using MHCLG Local Plan progress tracker. Recent delivery – average net additional dwellings for 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 by local authority calculated by Lichfields using MHCLG Live Table 122. Standard method (2017) and Standard method (2020, with urban uplift) – calculated by Lichfields using ONS 2014-based Household Projections (2020-30), ONS Median Workplace-based affordability ratio (2019) and local plans data. Figures cross-checked with MHCLG data published here. 35% uplift applied to urban areas listed in PPG para ID: 2a-004-20201216 Step 4. ‘Mutant algorithm’ figures calculated based on methodology proposed in ‘Changes to the current planning system August 2020’ here.

Disclaimer: This publication has been written in general terms and cannot be relied on to cover specific situations. We recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from acting on any of the contents of this publication. Lichfields accepts no duty of care or liability for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of any material in this publication. Lichfields is the trading name of Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners Limited. Registered in England, no.2778116