The housing allocation for the combined Housing Market Area (HMA) of Hart, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath should be reduced by by 27.7% or 6,560 houses, taking away the risk that Rushmoor and Surrey Heath will ask Hart to build 3,000 houses for them and ensuring Hart’s own requirement can be built on brownfield sites only according to new population projections that have been released by the DCLG.
The SHMA worked by taking as a starting point earlier Government figures that showed the combined population of the HMA would be 307K (PROJ 2 circled in Figure 1 above) and this was inflated by increasing the assumptions on inward migration, average household size and jobs growth to arrive at a final figure of 322K (PROJ 5 circled in Figure 1 above).
Interestingly, revised population forecasts were published by the Government as the SHMA was being finalised that showed that the start point population forecast should be reduced to 295K (circled in Figure 2 above), but amazingly these changes were not used to reduce the assessed housing need. If they had been used, the total amount of housing that would be required for the HMA would have reduced by 208 per annum (see Figure 3 below), or a total of 4,160 dwellings out of a total objectively assessed housing need (OAHN) of 23,600.
Now the latest DCLG figures (Table 426) have reduced the population forecast for 2031 for the whole HMA down to only 289K, a reduction of 6,000 people, which equates to a reduction of a further ~2,400 houses (@2.5 people per property).
Taken together these reductions in population forecasts would reduce the whole housing need for the HMA by 6,560 houses of the 23,600 or a reduction of a stunning 27.7%.
We wonder when Hart Council, Rushmoor and Surrey Heath councils will take these new figures into account in the Local Plan.