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Presidents Piece October 2016

Date: 23/10/2016

I pose myself two questions this month:

1.    Is it reasonable to expect Councils to have a plan in place by 2017? And

2.    Is it reasonable to continue to require a 5YHLS when a plan has recently been adopted?

It is clear to me that a plan-led system is the route to creating places rather than just estates. For this reason I believe that every authority or neighbourhood should have a plan which sets out how that area will develop in the short, medium and longer term.

For those Councils that can accommodate significant growth within their own administrative boundaries, have little in the way of constraints and have a buoyant development market there would appear to be no excuse for the absence of a plan. (Unfortunately these Councils are in the minority, a mere 10% in the South East.) Yet we remain in a situation where there are very few truly up to date local plans across the country. This surely indicates that there is a wider problem than just the will to make a plan.

The problems associated with trying to comply with the duty to cooperate in plan making indicate that there is a need to work across administrative boundaries to achieve both the levels and quality of development that is necessary to meet the increasing demand, and yet it takes time to work through these complex relationships. Some of the most successful models of joint plans and devolution have taken years to work through even just the governance arrangements.

It appears likely that an amendment to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill will be to force a joint plan where the deadline hasn't been met. If this is to be the result of the missed deadline, it would also be useful to provide an extension of time to those groups of Councils who have embarked on the process of a joint plan but cannot rush through the complexity.

When you get your plan adopted after several years of work, the last thing that you need or expect is for that plan to be immediately out of date. For me, it cannot be right that recently adopted plans can be overruled and undermined by a national measure on housing delivery rates.

Plans and allocated sites, particularly large strategic sites, need time to bed in and start to deliver. It is often the case that the upfront infrastructure requirements of site delivery have a lead-in time which will affect initial delivery rates. If you are already in a 5-year housing land supply deficit when your plan is made, you need a plentiful supply of smaller, less complex sites which can top up your supply until your larger sites start to deliver. It is extremely unlikely that you will be able to get yourself into a positive 5-year housing land supply position before you face a challenge on these grounds and therefore you cannot operate the plan-led system that you have worked towards and got agreement to.

A period of time, starting at the point of adoption of the plan, where the lack of a 5- year housing land supply does not outweigh the local plan would not only improve the relationship between the Council and existing communities but also give the allocated sites a better chance of delivering at the agreed rates.

Anna Rose, President 2016/17

Anna Rose Pres_web.jpg


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