Bath and North East Somerset Council is seeking a suspension of the examination of its Core Strategy [called the City Plan in Brighton & Hove] after a raft of criticisms over the soundness of the document. What can we learn from Bath’s mistakes?
The examination into the local authority’s core strategy has been underway for more than a year and the local authority has already had to make changes to its strategy mid-examination. It has become caught up in an interpretation of the Localism Act’s duty to cooperate with neighbouring authorities [see earlier story] mainly over housing delivery.
In his preliminary findings on the strategy the Planning Inspector said that the council’s methodology for assessing housing requirements was unsuitable and does not comply with the National Planning Policy Framework [NPPF].
He said the council’s evidence focuses on the immediate Bath area and does not consider housing needs of the wider area and whether there may be needs from further afield e.g. Bristol that should be accommodated, in part at least, within this district. He added that the council needs to make up a shortfall of 850 homes to 2006 and plan for a 20 per cent buffer of housing land on top of the required five-year supply.
In its short guide on the duty to co-operate [enshrined in the Localism Act 2011], the Planning Advisory Service states that the duty to cooperate is the ‘first thing’ that the Planning Inspectorate [PINS] will look at.
Since the NPPF was published PINS has found only three local plans to be sound: Taunton Deane Borough Council, Central Lancashire (Preston, South Ribble and Chorley Councils) and the London Borough of Barnet.
In Brighton we need up to 19,000 homes up to 2030 but can only identify space for 11,300. It is hoped that working with our neighbous under the dity to cooperate will make up the shortfall but they are struggling with their own housing numbers. The Bath scenario makes it clear that Inspectors expect solid solutions to housing delivery problems.
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