The Home Builders Federation has predicted a “complete collapse” in local plan making in response to Gove’s announcement.
Earlier this month, the District Council was on the road to show its draft Local Plan:
It’s open to consultation – but we have only until 15th January:
However, it is not clear what effect the bombshell from two weeks ago from central government will have:
As the LGA said at the time, it should now be up to local government to determine how many houses are built:
Cllr David Renard, housing spokesperson at the Local Government Association, claims the move should be seen as a positive as it grants much needed powers to local authorities. He stated: “It is good that the Government has recognised that national, top-down algorithms and formulas can never be a substitute for local knowledge and decision-making by those who know their areas best. We have been clear that councils and communities are best placed to decide how to build the right homes in the right places in their local areas, with the right infrastructure, and these proposed changes will help to ensure this can happen.“
Today it is being reported that a Home Counties planning authority has indeed decided to make its own way:
A Hertfordshire council is set to throw out “unacceptably high” housing targets for their district. Cross-party politicians in Three Rivers – which includes Rickmansworth, Abbots Langley, Chorleywood and South Oxhey – have agreed their next housing blueprint will use lower figures than previously anticipated. The move follows an announcement by housing secretary Michael Gove MP that the government will abandon its mandatory housing targets and instead set “advisory starting points” for local authorities. Under current government calculations, Three Rivers District Council would have to plan for 630 new homes each year until 2037/38 – or 12,624 in total.
Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst (LD, Leavesden), lead councillor for infrastructure and planning policy, said the next Local Plan for Three Rivers will use a locally calculated figure following Mr Gove’s announcement. In a statement, he said: “The council has been clear that government’s method of calculating the housing numbers resulted in an unacceptably high number for Three Rivers which we have objected to. We were committed to getting this reduced and agreed in October to produce, alongside the plan required by the government, our own figure on what was right for Three Rivers. Now given the Secretary of State’s statement, and subject to what is in the consultation, we will only put forward our own vision for Three Rivers.” It is not yet known what the new housing target for Three Rivers will be...
The central government’s move to drop mandatory housing targets is being “developed” alongside the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which has not yet received a final sign-off in the Houses of Parliament. Mr Gove said: “We have an urgent need in this country to build more homes so that everyone – whether they aspire to home ownership or not – can have a high-quality, affordable place to live. But our planning system is not working as it should. If we are to deliver the new homes this country needs, new development must have the support of local communities. That requires people to know it will be beautiful, accompanied by the right infrastructure, approved democratically, that it will enhance the environment and create proper neighbourhoods.”
Other councils are considering what to do with the numbers in their local plans:
Harrogate’s local authority is weighing up what impact the Government’s intention to water down its pledge to build 300,000 homes every year may – or may not – have on future housing developments in the district.
Two English councils have become the first to delay work on their local plans in light of Michael Gove’s bombshell planning reforms announced last week, amid fears of a big impact on housebuilding rates. Both Horsham council in Sussex and Teignbridge Council in Devon have postponed council meetings scheduled for today that were due to consider the next stages of their respective local plans, citing Gove’s change of policy last week.
Gove last week set out a new approach to plan-making following pressure from backbench Tory MPs, which made clear that in future local housing need figures generated in Whitehall will be “advisory”, and that councils will be free to plan for fewer homes where space is constrained.
The news from Horsham and Teignbridge comes after the Home Builders Federation predicted a “complete collapse” in local plan making in response to Gove’s announcement, in which he gave authorities a two year transitional period to adapt their housing proposals. The decisions follow similar decisions made by at least 20 authorities in the past year as uncertainty over the direction of travel on planning policy has grown.
Finally, two years ago, central government reduced its quota for East Devon:
The Government has announced a U-turn decision on the number of new homes that must be built annually in East Devon. Proposals to build 1,614 houses in the district each year have been cut by almost 700 after The Government announced its decision to shelve original plans. East Devon District Council (EDDC) today (January 4) welcomed the changes, which will see an annual reduction of 686 new builds – a 42.5 per cent decrease.
The district council had raised concerns with The Government over the proposed numbers – similar to other authorities – with councillors saying the proposals ‘lacked any rhyme or reason’ and would have been ‘impossible’ to achieve without putting pressure on East Devon’s protected landscapes and habitats. The council also raised fears of the ‘immense pressure’ original numbers would put on services and infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and roads to accommodate the increase in population. In a report to the council’s strategic planning committee meeting, on 16 September 2020, councillors declared ‘no logic’ to The Government’s proposed approach other than to deliver the 300,000 homes nationally per year and reach targets.
Councillor Dan Ledger, EDDC portfolio holder for strategic planning, said: “This is great news and I am massively relieved that we do not now need to plan for an impossibly high number of new homes in the district for no good reason. Instead, we can focus on delivering a new Local Plan which delivers an appropriate balance between protecting everything that makes East Devon so special while delivering the new homes and jobs that our communities need.”