3 July 2017
This research continues our series of updates on housing land supply figures in the South East and East of England. The infographic and tables show the housing land supply claimed by individual planning authorities in their own monitoring reports and position statements as at June 2017.
The three Councils (Lewes, Basingstoke & Deane and East Hampshire) who have adopted new plans since we last reported have also made some of the most demonstrable gains in housing land supply.
This is consistent with the results from our last report. A pattern has emerged through our research in which Councils with recently adopted plans and current policies are likely to be in a stronger position to demonstrate a five-year supply.
Since last April, South Oxfordshire District Council has had to retract its figures of 4.0 years for the Didcot area and 9.0 years for the rest of the district. At two appeals, in Chinnor and Wallingford, Inspectors considered that South Oxfordshire was a single Housing Market Area (HMA) which needed to produce one housing land supply figure for the whole of the district including Didcot. The Council had previously vociferously defended its two HMA policy.
At the Wallingford appeal it was decided that the Liverpool method should be used despite the Planning Inspectorate usually stating a preference of the Sedgefield method. The Sedgefield calculation method involves adding any shortfall of housing from previous years over the next five years of the plan period, whereas the Liverpool method spreads the shortfall over the entire plan period. South Oxfordshire could justify its use because rapid growth at Didcot would be unreasonable and so historic undersupply could not be tackled over a five-year period. In May 2017, South Oxfordshire released its new five-year housing land supply for the whole of the HMA, totalling 4.1 years.
For the first time since we published our initial research in November 2015, Brighton and Hove can produce a five-year land supply.
Along with many other Sussex south coast planning authorities, Brighton and Hove is constrained by its location between the coast and the South Downs National Park. Much of the housing has to be delivered from sites identified for regeneration.
The Council’s new figure of 5.6 years is based on a bespoke calculation method supported by the City Plan inspector. The five-year supply requirement is linked to the updated housing trajectory to reflect up-to-date and realistic assumptions for housing delivery, including market signals and the latest information from developers, agents and landowners on anticipated delivery rates. The Inspector has deemed this alternative method to be more realistic.
In another waterfront town, Ipswich, despite the recent adoption of the Ipswich Borough Council Core Strategy and Policies Development Plan Document Review, the council states in policy CS7 that they cannot provide a five-year land supply. A large proportion of its need could be accommodated by the Ipswich Garden Village allocation but the Council says that the tightly drawn borough boundaries means that the five year-supply would remain unmet. The council is now collaborating with neighbouring authorities to try and fulfil their Objectively Assessed Need across boundaries.
Most Councils report the data listed here annually. However, this is not always the case so these figures should be considered as a snapshot of a point in time. Additionally, the reported figures are not normally independently scrutinised at the point of publication so they can be open to challenge.
Each individual Council’s position is fluid and may not necessarily take into account evolving circumstances such as changes in policy, appeal decisions, judgements or the release of updated supply and delivery rates. Each Council is aiming to achieve a five-year supply as measured against a development plan that is compliant with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Those Councils without a demonstrable five-year supply may be in a more vulnerable position when faced with speculative planning applications. Unfortunately, not all Councils can use this benchmark because of expired plans. The next best option is typically their Objectively Assessed Housing Need Survey(s) or other figures derived from DCLG household projections or non-NPPF compliant plans.
Disappointingly, some Councils continue to report inaccurate figures that are at substantial variance to those imposed by Inspectors and there may be additional discrepancies between the figures and binding judgements in appeal decisions. Moreover, some make assertions about their own calculations which may conflict with the approach mandated by Planning Practice Guidance which can lead to inconsistencies in these results.
For detailed housing land supply analysis, contact Nick Bowden or Annabel Le Lohe on 01908 423 311 or at email@example.com.