Agenda item

Setting Localised Housing Target (Agenda Item 8)

Report by Iain Withington, Planning Policy Officer.


The Planning Policy Officer introduced the report and advised that the NPPF required the Local Planning Authority to meet the need for affordable housing in full.  The paper had been produced to set local housing targets using a range of interim figures and different scenarios and demographic projections. 


The Senior Planning Policy Officer pointed out a mistake on the addendum sheet which had been tabled.  In the penultimate column (Scenario G) the figure for Jobs should read 6168 (not +380).  He then gave a short presentation.


The two key elements for strategy setting were growth and housing.  The NPPF included a requirement to set housing targets.  The current target of 780 per annum was not being delivered and the Council only had a 2.8 year housing land supply.


The report had been prepared in stages.  Evidence had been gathered and a baseline set.  Then demographic modelling had been used.  The next stage had looked at demand side issues, not influenced by other factors to provide an objective assessment of housing need and supply factors including housing land availability and environmental constraints including infrastructure needs in the future.


The outcome of the various scenarios tested was that between 634 and 770 dwellings were needed.  Guidance suggested that the higher figure should be adopted.


The next stage would be to investigate further supply side evidence by undertaking wider stakeholder involvement, addressing cross boundary issues and seeking Members’ views.  A visioning session would be arranged to receive Member input and then an issues and options strategy would be set out.


The Chairman thanked the officers for a fascinating report.  He noted that according to the graph on page 38 most inward migration to the District was from within the UK.


Councillor Kiddle-Morris was concerned about formulating policies.  The report said that housing provision should match job requirements but many people commuted out of the District for work.  He also wanted new housing to be where people wanted it which was in rural areas, not in large conurbations.  Finally he was concerned about the duty to co-operate with neighbouring authorities.  Breckland was ahead of the game and no-one else was ready to discuss their plans.  A cohesive cross-border plan was needed.


Councillor Cowen referred to the upper and lower limits and said that the table on page 49 showed the number of completions.  There were in excess of 2000 extant permissions and it would be interesting to know how many would be delivered.  It seemed there were only windfall sites coming forward.  Allocated sites were not being delivered because people did not want to live in the allocated areas.  He was concerned about how the Council would deliver any new housing – let alone 700 per annum for the next 20 years.


With regard to the number of new jobs per annum he asked whether the numbers might be affected by people moving to the area to retire.  There were lots of issues and the figures needed to be understood.  If the figures were tied to employment it was like mixing apples with pears.  There were lots of people already commuting out of the District and with improved train services to Cambridge and the dualling of the A11 which would reduce travelling times, that was likely to increase.  The houses would not generate employment.  The visioning session was vital and a ‘no holds barred’ approach was needed to form policies.


The Deputy Planning Manager said that the completions issue was interesting as there was a very low lapse rate for planning permissions.  However, recent schemes had not progressed due to market forces.  The previous Core Strategy had looked at large allocations of growth on strategic sites and they took time to come forward.  Need had to be assessed and then it had to be determined how it could be delivered.  There was a lot to consider.


Councillor Kiddle-Morris noted that only 328 dwellings had been delivered the previous year.  To meet the targets in the LDF would require more than 1000 houses to be built each year.  When he looked at the projections he was concerned.  People could not be told where or how to live their lives.  They would use cars as there was not enough public transport.  More constraints were not needed with a largely rural population.  Further work would continue on stage three of the report.


RESOLVED that subject to the comments made the report be accepted for the purpose of preparing the Local Plan.

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