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Statement following Planning Inspector’s letter regarding the Office for National Statistics: 2018-based household projections

Statement following Planning Inspector’s letter regarding the Office for National Statistics: 2018-based household projections

Latest on the local plan process

Braintree District Council has been asked by the Planning Inspector whether the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) household projections represent a “meaningful change in the housing situation” that may affect the overall calculation which results in the number of homes required in its Local Plan.

The council submitted its Local Plan in 2017 which included housing figures which showed that 716 homes needed to be built each year in the Braintree District. This figure was found sound by the Planning Inspector in 2018.

On July 2 2020, the Planning Inspector wrote to the North Essex Authorities following the publication of the latest ONS figures published on June 29, 2020. His letter can be found here www.braintree.gov.uk/lpexamination.

In it he says: “In order to determine whether or not the Plan’s housing requirements remain soundly-based, I will need to consider whether or not the publication of the 2018-based household projections represents a meaningful change in the housing situation from the situation that existed when I produced my letter of 27 June 2018.”

Braintree District Council and the Planning Inspector have agreed that the council will submit the evidence-based information he asked for by July 31. One week later than originally planned in order for demographic experts to give robust evidence as part of the council’s response. It is likely that the Planning Inspector will also seek the views of examination participants on this question.

Cllr Gabrielle Spray, Cabinet Member for Planning at Braintree District Council, said: “I want to stress that we do not want to allocate more housing than is needed but it is over simplistic to use the ONS household projection figures as anything other than a starting point. The overall calculation is based on many other factors on top of the projection figures such as the housing market, housing delivery, future job data, cross boundary unmet need and much more.

“We’ve committed to getting back to the inspector with sufficiently clear and robust information to help him progress this matter. It is important to take the time now to ensure that we carefully look at this new information as we know that many different parties will scrutinise these figures and will put forward their views to the Planning Inspector.  We await the advice of our expert consultants on the latest housing projections.”

Please view the flow chart on page 8 of the Planning Advisory Service guide. It sets out the complexities between the starting point of the ONS figure and the final housing target for the Local Plan.

View it here: www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/objectively-assessed-need-9fb.pdf