Council responds to inspector’s letter regarding household projections
Latest on the Local PlanPublished: Friday, 31st July 2020
Braintree District Council has published its response to the Planning Inspector after it was asked for evidence as to whether the latest population projections from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) will affect the overall calculation which results in the number of homes required in its Local Plan.
The Planning Inspector wrote to the North Essex Authorities (NEAs) on July 2, and said that “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.”
He asked the NEAs to provide a statement, with evidence-based reasons, on whether or not they consider that the publication of the new household projections represented a meaningful change in the housing situation.
The council has worked with housing experts to produce its findings. The council’s response and the report can be found here: www.braintree.gov.uk/lpexamination
The North Essex Authorities (Braintree District Council, Colchester Borough Council and Tendring District Council) have stated that they see no meaningful change relating to the Colchester and Tendring housing targets.
In regards to the Braintree District, the council has written to the Planning Inspector to reiterate that the ONS figures should only be seen as a starting point for considering a housing target in the Local Plan, not a final figure and has suggested a number of potential ways forward for the Inspector to consider.
This includes removing the uplift for market signals applied in the 2016 Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) study which would have the effect of reducing the need for housing from 716 to 623 per year or to consider the housing target more fully within the examination of the section 2 plan instead.
The Council acknowledges that the final decision is the Planning Inspector’s and welcomes his views and urges him to undertake public consultation on this matter.
Councillor Gabrielle Spray, Cabinet Member for Planning, said: “We recognise that the decision on this is the Planning Inspector’s not ours. Over the past month, with help from experts in this field, we have undertaken detailed work on this complex issue. We’ve no desire for more homes to be built than is needed. But equally we know that housing projection figures are only a starting point not the whole picture. We have discussed this issue in detail over the past few weeks, including at Full Council this week and I am pleased that as a council, across all political lines, we are agreed that the way forward should be the one that enables us to have a sound local plan in place as soon as possible.”
The Halstead Residents Association Group Leader Councillor Jackie Pell said: “Together with the other groups on Braintree District Council I want us to focus on the future. As I represent Halstead Residents’ Association I hope that by working together we can better safeguard Halstead from any extra development that residents do not want because the infrastructure can’t cope.”
The Green and Independent Group Leader Councillor James Abbott said: “"The Section 1 Garden Communities Plan has been a lengthy and difficult process but there is now a way forward with the Inspector's recommendation of the withdrawal of two of the Garden Communities. The revised position on housing need is also important and we support the Council’s approach in offering some options to the Inspector on reduced annual need as well as the emphasis on working collaboratively to now secure a Local Plan as soon as possible that will protect the district from speculative development.”
Labour Group Leader Councillor David Mann said: “Having taken stock, we must now move forward working together on these proposed steps towards future planning for the Braintree District. Our overarching aim must remain the delivery of sustainable development that respects local environments and provides new jobs and essential infrastructure to benefit current and future residents.”
The Conservative Group Leader and Leader of the council Councillor Graham Butland said: “I am delighted that together with all group leaders we can move forward collaboratively facing the challenges in our district.”
· You can read the North Essex Authorities’ response on this page: www.braintree.gov.uk/lpexamination (Renamed: NEA018 - NEA Statement on 2018 Population Projections)
· Supporting information / Report from Stantec can also be found here: www.braintree.gov.uk/lpexamination