Whilst the Castle Point Council new Draft consultation Local Plan stutters along, a report has been released tracking the progress of Local Plans since the release of the National Planning Policy Framework.
Castle Point residents may be somewhat concerned to hear that despite the dissolution of Regional Strategies and the determination of housing need projections locally, across the country planners have been setting higher than previous housing targets!
In Castle Point much investigation has gone into exploring the effect that “constraints” might have on local housing need projections, and how and where these constraints, should be applied.
Councillors appear concerned that should a constrained number for Canvey’s housing allocation be arrived at, it will result in the shortfall, in assessed housing need, being required to be made up by increased mainland housing.
By implication this appears to be suggesting that they are prepared to accept the constraints that should restrict housing numbers on Canvey, those being Green Belt, Flood Risk and Hazardous Industries, have been, and currently are being, applied within the draft new consultation Local Plan across the whole Borough in the housing distribution rather than within the constrained parts of the Borough!
Whether the current Castle Point Local Plan (new draft consultation) will be progressed in its current format, having received the few “tweaks” cllr Smith suggested it may need, or whether the current version is withdrawn and the process is re-started we will learn after the Elections.
A recent Report has highlighted the slowing down of Local Plan adoptions.
During the early days of the NPPF there appeared more likelihood of a Plan being found acceptable with lower housing numbers than those calculated by the now extinct Regional Strategies.
Housing numbers appear to be an issue. Of late there appears less signs that lower housing numbers are being accepted. Why there should be a slow down when the opportunity to apply constraints, especially Green Belt protection, in the light of the fairly recent guidance, is less clear.
Nathaniel Litchfield Report.
A Review of Local Plans and Housing Requirements.
Dated March 2015
In the first year of the NPPF, many Plans came unstuck because they sought to reduce their legacy housing targets to below the level implied by household projections. That trend has largely been snuffed out, and the proportion of Plans proposing housing requirements above household projections has risen from 41% to 71% suggesting planners are getting to grips with the demographics.
Constraints Justifying a Housing Requirement below OAN.
Since the NPPF was introduced a total of 11 Local Plans have been found sound where the Inspector explicitly cited that constraints or adverse impacts justified a housing requirement below Objectively Assessed Needs.
However, the majority of those were in the first year of the NPPF, where lingering Regional Strategies and the legacy of the pre-NPPF balancing exercises, provided less clarity on the approach.
These areas correlate with those heavily constrained by NPPF footnote 9 constraints. However, more recently the bar has been set higher. In the past twelve months, just one Local Plan was found sound with a housing requirement that would explicitly not meet full objectively assessed needs within the Housing Market Area (HMA): the Rother Local Plan Core Strategy was adopted with a shortfall in excess of 9,000 dwellings over the plan period within the Rother and Hastings HMA. The Inspector concluded that this was consistent with the NPPF as the majority of Rother District fell within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The only other ‘Plan’ that has been examined and adopted in the last year with such a significant shortfall was the Further Alterations London Plan (FALP). London’s blueprint included a shortfall of 66,000 dwellings over its 10 year period. It was adopted despite there being no established solution for addressing those unmet needs, but is subject to a different legislative regime than Local Plans. The FALP Inspector concluded that its annual housing requirement of 42,000, whilst inadequate, would be better than retaining the previous targets (of 32,210 per annum) which are “woefully short of what is needed.” These two examples aside, the progress suggests that, even in areas where constraints to delivery exist, it remains a challenge to demonstrate that the adverse impacts of meeting OAN would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits or that policies mean development should be restricted to a level below that indicated by OAN. The acid test will be when more Green Belt authorities progress their Plans over coming years, although there is currently little incentive for many of these Councils to accelerate Plan-delivery (with all the difficult implications involved).
In the meantime you may wish to consider how other local authorities Plans are progressing, full report available HERE.