Invitation to quote for research on nature of planning constraints

28 November 2013

The House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee has decided to undertake an inquiry into the operation of the planning system in the spring of 2014, two years after the National Planning Policy Framework came into operation.

This will include an examination of the nature of planning constraints—an area where research has been limited. The Committee is therefore interested in commissioning work from an external researcher or organisation.

From the Committee's scrutiny of housing and planning in this Parliament it has decided to focus the analysis on planning constraints on the provision of housing. The planning system has many elements intended to ensure an adequate provision of housing land with permission, which include requirements on planning authorities to:

  • identify housing demand and need for housing
  • provide a five year supply of land and to look forward in more general terms for up to two decades
  • clarify the densities, design and building regulations that will be applied
  • deal with planning applications within a clearly specified time
  • identify affordable housing requirements and to facilitate negotiations on planning gain

These requirements are almost always formally met but there remains a perception that planning is a major constraint on development and on the confidence to put in applications that will both meet a local authority's planning requirements and achieve a speedy outcome. Equally there is evidence that the effectiveness of planning system varies significantly between apparently similar authorities. For instance Committee is aware of two distinct problems:

  • smaller and regional developers are excluded from the market, in part because of the costs and burden of getting planning permission even though local authorities are trying to make more smaller sites available
  • larger sites, which normally involve mainly larger developers, take many years to move from initial interest to completion and involve many  interactions with the local authority over the period of the project.

In the Committee's view, understanding the interactions between local authorities, developers and other stakeholders is fundamental to assessing the true costs and risks of the planning and development process. Identifying the pinch points is core to improving land and housing supply.

What we want

The Committee is seeking an analysis that would undertake case study research across comparable local authorities by tracing the processes from the developer’s decision to put forward an application through to the start of construction using actual examples. This would entail detailed interviews with developers, local authorities and other stakeholders to clarify the extent to which experience of planning at the local level impacted on the nature and timescale of these decisions.

The Committee would expect the research to identify a small number of pairs of authorities where conditions are very similar but process and outcomes are very different and studying a set of small, medium, large and mixed applications from pre-application to construction. The report should identify differences between similar local authorities in terms of numbers, delays and other outcomes and how they can be related to various drivers and processes. This should provide an understanding of the factors that differ between authorities and the extent to which they constrain house building as well as identifying any changes arising from the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework and the Community Infrastructure Levy.

The project will require:

  • an analysis of secondary data to identify how permissions and outcomes vary across authorities
  • the identification of pairs of authorities and relevant developers
  • detailed case studies of 24 applications across the chosen pairs of local authorities
  • analysis and findings
  • a clearly written and formatted report aimed at an intelligent, busy lay reader

The Committee wishes to receive a report summarising the case studies with an analysis and findings. Sources should be fully referenced and any calculations explained. The report should be completed by 31 March 2014 (subject to agreement). It is likely to be published by the Committee in due course. Any detailed statistical information or tables may be annexed to the report and may also be published by the Committee. The researcher will be required to report progress at monthly intervals and will be asked to attend a meeting of the Committee to brief Members about their report.

Responding to this invitation

Expressions of interest in this work should be sent by email or post to Glenn McKee (, Clerk of the Communities and Local Government Committee, Room 110, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA to arrive by 1pm on Friday 13 December 2013. That expression of interest should include:

  • evidence of your (or your organisation's) expertise in undertaking work of this sort
  • details of any relevant work done
  • details of who would lead this project, who else would work on it, your methodology and the output you would expect to provide in the time available
  • prices should be firm, and should include all costs (including travel and subsistence expenses) associated with delivering the work, but be exclusive of VAT)
  • the contract shall be subject to the House’s standard terms and conditions (PDF PDF 357 KB)

Expressions of interest will be judged according to relevant experience and expertise and quality of proposal (30%) as well as cost (70%).

Additional information

The Committee's reports into housing and planning during this Parliament are available on its website. Of particular relevance are the reports on the National Planning Policy Framework and the Financing of New Housing Supply.

Further information

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