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De-Mystifying The North Herts Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) for Housing

This Thursday 8th October North Herts District Council are holding an Extraordinary Council Meeting that will consider how the draft local plan for housing should be modified as a result of recently published ONS household projections for North Herts. The new projections show a slowing in population growth compared to the CLG 2014 based household projections that form the basis of the OAN in the draft local plan.

Transition Town Letchworth has been participating in the local planning process making the case for sustainable developments and we are hoping that councillors will use the opportunity that the new population projections provide to remove some of the least sustainable housing sites from the plan.

There is now a very large set of documents and data trail associated with the local plan. Having worked our way through this information we have found it helpful to produce a quick guide to the different OAN calculation methodologies which we are sharing through this post. It provides a step by step walkthrough of how you can get to the different OAN options shown in the table below. Transition Town Letchworth in its most recent submission to the local plan examination has given a preference for using the  ONS 2018 based principal household projection combined with the affordability adjustment using 2018 data but applied for 20 years (Method 3b), but there are as you can see other alternatives that could be adopted.

North Herts OAN For Different Calculation Methods and Baseline Data

Method 1

(ORS 2016)

Method 2

(ORS 2020)

Method 3a

(CLG method with 10 year uplift based on 2014 CLG data)

Method 3b

(CLG method with 20 years uplift based on 2018 ONS data)

Method 3c

(CLG method with 10 years uplift based on 2018 ONS data)

2018 based principal household projection (ONS)






2018 ten year migration household projection (ONS)






Too often contractors, who have no vested interest in North Herts as a ‘Place’, are contracted to provide the answer to important planning decisions. On this occasion, it would appear that sufficient data and information is already held by NHDC to allow its councillors and officers to form a response to the inspector on how the OAN should be derived.

The recent Corporate Peer Review of NHDC recommended that NHDC “Broaden the council’s focus to an ambitious place shaping agenda”. The decision about OAN and site selection is fundamentally about place and so this local plan decision point provides the council with an opportunity to address a recommendation within the Corporate Peer Challenge as well as to act on its declared climate emergency.

TTL, and we expect the wider community, are looking to their councillors to work together to finally produce a sound local plan, that looks after North Herts. District as a ‘place’ and the wider world, by placing sustainability at the heart of its decision making.

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