At Thursday’s council meeting it became clear that Hart Council is keeping the 10,185 housing target for now. We asked a number of questions (see below) about the new Government consultation which reduces Hart’s housing target to 292 dwellings per annum, compared to the 485 dpa in the draft Local Plan.
The basic answer from the council was that so far, this is just a consultation, so they are sticking with the ridiculous housing target. However, they didn’t give any indication that they were going to consider the lower target even as an option. We think this is a dereliction of duty.
We are disappointed that this approach keeps our sensitive large green field sites at risk of inappropriate development. Sites remaining at risk include Murrell Green, Winchfield, Rye Common and Pale Lane (Elvetham Chase).
Local Plan Update
There is still no sign of the 1,200 responses to the Local Plan consultation being published. We were led to believe at Cabinet these would be shown to councillors at last week’s LPSG and published shortly afterwards. It is now nearly four months since the consultation completed, so there can be no excuses.
Questions to HDC 28 September 2017 about Hart Housing Target
Q1: Recently the Government launched a consultation on a new method for calculating housing need. If this new approach was adopted Hart’s target building rate would fall to 292 dwellings per annum, compared to 382 in the SHMA and 485 in the draft Local Plan. How does HDC plan to respond to this consultation?
A: There could be benefits to having a standard approach to assessing the need for housing, but
a formula drawn up by the Government can never fully understand the complexity and
unique needs of local housing markets, which vary significantly from place to place. It is
crucial that councils and communities can lead new development in their areas.
The consultation runs until the beginning of November and we shall use that time to assess
the robustness of the government’s draft proposals to understand how it would meet all our
housing needs such as the need locally to deliver affordable homes for example. We intend
also to work with out Housing Market Area Partners and with other partners, such as the
District Council Network and the Local Government Association, to formulate our
response to the consultation.
Supplementary: Will you make the consultation response public, and if so, when?
A: We will endeavour to put as much in the public domain as soon as possible.
Q2: The same consultation (Table 1 and Para 54) indicates that councils with no Local Plan should start to use the new methodology immediately. What steps have the Council taken, and what steps will you take to adopt this new method and when?
A: The point about using the methodology immediately is not strictly true. The Government’s
paper is a consultation only on a possible standardised methodology. Clearly one cannot
prejudge the use of a possible methodology prior to the end of the consultation whilst also
speculating on the outcome. In any event, the consultation makes it clear that only if
adopted, the new methodology will only take effect for Local Plans submitted either after
1 April or when the new revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is published
(whichever is the later). It would clearly therefore be premature at such an early time to
start to speculate wildly about the possible use of an methodology that has not yet even
Q3: Both Rushmoor and Surrey Heath have also seen their housing targets reduced by the new methodology by 142 and 30 dpa respectively. Rushmoor have already said they will accommodate their original, higher figure. Will Hart still need to consider building additional houses for Surrey Heath?
A: The Governments’ paper is a consultation and consultation only – one should not speculate
about the outcome. It would therefore, be totally unwise to start to speculate about how
our market area partners would react to the consultation and what that may mean for
future unmet housing needs particularly as Surrey Heath is already well behind in meeting its
Q4: The consultation says (Para 46) that Inspector should work on the assumption that the approach to calculating housing need is sound, if the plan calls for more houses than the standard method would provide. What does HDC now consider to be the most appropriate housing target to plan for in the Local Plan?
A: The current arrangements for calculating housing need remain in place until such time as the
methodology for calculating housing need is changed by the Government. The objectively
assessed housing need for Hart remains at 382 new homes/annum but we agree with the
previous administration that an affordable housing uplift is essential and that we should be
planning to deliver at least 485 new homes/annum.
Supplementary: The total of the Government housing targets for each planning authority amounts to ~266,000 dpa, in line with national needs identified in ONS figures. In the draft Local Plan, Hart is planning for more than twice the demographic requirement in the local ONS numbers. If this was repeated across the country, it would result in over 500,000 dpa, so what justification is there for keeping Hart’s planning target at 485 dpa, given that the new 292 dpa target already includes an affordable housing uplift to the base demographic requirement?
A: Not all districts are the same and we are not starting from the same point, This
consultation ends in November, with the results not available until the new year, and we
need to progress our local plan process rather than waiting for these consultation results. If
you need more detail please get in touch with me and I will try to help.