The recent consultation from the government seeks a standard methodology for calculating the need for housing across the country. One might think this is an admirable approach, however in practice it is likely to become a problem for the country as a whole.
The reason I say this is that the methodology is exclusively and unashamedly linked to affordability which inevitably means that most houses will be required in the south of England, where the affordability problem is the greatest. This as one element is widely welcomed, but what it does not do is look at another element that is just as important. This being the impact and requirements of economic growth.
What is quite clear is that whilst we may meet needs of affordability this will be at the expense of widening the north – south economic divide, even with the government’s latest proposals from the budget.
As a result of the suggested housing figures that would emerge from the methodology, there is a real risk that when compared with what authorities are planning for in their adopted plans, the north would see a reduction in overall economic output (GVA) and the south would see an increase. This clearly shows the need for additional housing to be placed in the north of England to meet economic aspirations in that area.
Of course, we are already seeing the government move away from the figure they propose for the whole country of 266,000 per annum to the recently announced figure of 300,000. With these changing and fluctuating figures there
remain, therefore, many areas that still need resolution in determining the appropriate dwelling requirement for each Authority.
What will be clear though is that if and when we do have a standard methodology, then this is likely to mean the only time that dwelling requirements can be challenged will be through representations to local plans, rather than planning appeals. It is important therefore for all clients to take this on board and ensure they make the fullest representations to local Plans as soon as they are able to do so. Failure to do this could mean that sites are then frozen out until the next Local Plan review.
There will though also potentially be opportunities for clients that arise from using the standard methodology, as where previously some Councils could demonstrate a five year supply they will be no longer able to do so.
Time therefore to look in detail at all your landholdings again to ensure you taking all the right actions in the light of the emerging planning position.
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