Sunday, 15 May 2016

Housing numbers projected for East Devon >>> challenging the robustness of the figures

The District Council has just presented a report on housing numbers, with its press release stating: 

East Devon in strong position to defend communities and environment from inappropriate development through robust housing policies within adopted Local Plan

13 May 2016 - Council can demonstrate a healthy five year housing land supply - East Devon

These figures have been known for some time and represent about 10% more than the minimum laid out in the Local Plan. 

But it depends on your perspective.

Exactly a year ago, the Inspector was asking where the District Council got its figures from:
Inspector challenges East Devon council with questions over new Local Plan | Exeter Express and Echo

This was echoed in a comment on Cllr Claire Wright's blog:

On the 7th April, before formal consultation started, I took the unusual step of writing to Inspector Thickett to draw his attention to a lack of any satisfactory audit trail to the housing target EDDC is now using. At that time the draft plan claimed that the Strategic housing Market Assessment (SHMA) “sets out an Objectively Assessed Housing requirement for the local plan that provides for 17,100 new dwellings over the 2013 to 2031 period. Planned provision at March to 2015 is expected to provide 18,391 homes and this provides flexibility in respect of policy.”

This is misleading, as the figure does not come out of any of the SHMA’s three scenarios but is the result of supplementary calculations conducted by consultants on a further, rather extreme, scenario. This to use the consultant’s own words: “is a difficult exercise, again highly uncertain”. (It is also extremely difficult to follow).

The wording, I am pleased to say, has now been changed. I shall, of course, be providing further evidence to the Inspector, challenging the robustness of these figures.

Planning inspector challenges EDDC on evidence on its inflated housing numbers - Claire Wright

Moreover, the District Council has been stating that the figure will be 18,391 new dwellings rather than 17,100 - and yet even this might be a considerable underestimation:
Futures Forum: Housing numbers projected for East Devon >>> >>> >>> "The total number of homes built during the 18 year Local Plan period could be as high as 23,000" - rather than the "17,000 minimum figure of housing need outlined by the new Local Plan."

Besides - in the context of the anticipated planning application for an industrial estate at Sidford - it has been noted that the employment land figures were inflated due to lobbying by the East Devon Business Forum. And with the District Council using the calculation of 'one job, one home, this has directly influenced the housing figures:
Local Plan “a deeply flawed document”? | Save Our Sidmouth

There are serious questions about the transparency of how housing numbers are arrived at - throughout the country:
One company does at least 250 Housing estimates for local plans – councils refuse to disclose data | East Devon Watch

Here is Friday's press announcement from the District Council:

Council can demonstrate a healthy five year housing land supply

13 May 2016

East Devon in strong position to defend communities and environment from inappropriate development through robust housing policies within adopted Local Plan

East Devon District Council’s most recent Housing Monitoring Update report (HMU), which was presented at a Development Management Committee meeting on Tuesday 10 May 2016, revealed that the district authority continues to demonstrate a healthy 5.54 year housing land supply. This takes into account a 20% buffer that is required by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for authorities who have previously under delivered.

The East Devon Local Plan has a target of 17,100 homes to be provided over the plan period of 2013-2031, which equates to 950 houses per year. There have been 500 net completions over the six months to 30 September 2015, which although down on the last six months is up on the same period last year. It is projected that a total of 1,047 net new homes will have been completed in the year up to 31 March 2016, which easily exceeds the 950 home figure in the Local Plan.

A grand total of 18,391 net new dwellings are now projected to have been completed over the full plan period – well above the minimum figure for housing need. The report shows that over the five year period, if completions were averaged out, a surplus of 617 net new houses are projected to be built over the district as a whole. This healthy excess means that if certain sites were unable to deliver, there is a comfortable buffer of homes to meet this deficiency.

The 5.54 years housing land supply clearly demonstrates that the council is delivering above the required amount of housing, which shows that its Local Plan policy is working. This puts East Devon in a strong position, enabling it to rely with certainty on housing supply policies within the recently adopted Local Plan. Ultimately, this will help protect East Devon communities, as well as the outstanding natural and built environment, from the threat of inappropriate development outside built up area boundaries.

Commenting on the five year land supply, Councillor Andrew Moulding, East Devon District Council’s Portfolio holder for Strategic Development and Partnerships, said:

“Our housing monitoring reports, which are produced every six months, are a vital means of ensuring that both officers and members are aware of and understand how and where housing is being delivered in the district.

“The fact that we have been able to demonstrate a healthy five year land supply means that our Local Plan policies can be given full weight when we are assessing planning applications. But it is important that we don’t become complacent, as the projected surplus could be quickly reduced if appropriate windfall sites or allocated sites are not developed.

“We must not forget that up until the adoption of the new Local Plan, East Devon was unable to demonstrate a five year land supply as the housing target within the Local Plan had not been examined in sufficient detail, and therefore could not be viewed as correct. Now, because we have a sound Local Plan, we can move forward with greater confidence that we will meet (and may even exceed) the 17,100 new homes target, enabling us to deliver our planned levels of development and growth.”

13 May 2016 - Council can demonstrate a healthy five year housing land supply - East Devon

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