Blame the government for changing direction……..reality!
We need a little honesty from the Leader of Fareham Borough Council.
So let the true story begin and let us not be taken in by the fake news which is so common in today’s Fareham’s political leadership, pure theatre others would
say a pantomime!
Once again, we see the local plan in chaos mode due to the self-indulgence of the council’s leadership.
Fareham Borough Council’s Local Plan (publication version ) as of December 2020 is based on housing need statistics that at the time of the public consultation (November / December 2020) can only be described as ‘speculative’
During the consultation, the government were still considering responses to their consultation, carried out from the 6th of August 2020 to 29th October 2020, on government proposals to reform the planning system in England. On the 16th / 17th December 2020 the Government’s published their conclusions.
The Government has decided not to embrace the Office of National Statistics 2018 household projections to determine housing need and have instead reverted to using the 2014 household projections.
Setting the baseline
Set the baseline using national household growth projections (2014-based household projections in England, table 406 unitary authorities and districts in England) for the area of the local authority. Using these projections, calculate the projected average annual household growth over 10 years (this should be 10 consecutive years, with the current year being used as the starting point from which to calculate growth over that period). Note that the figures displayed are rounded and individual cells need to be viewed in order to see the full number.
For information on re-organised authorities please see the section below “How should local housing need be calculated for re-organised authorities?”
Fareham Borough Council brought forward the Publication Version of the Draft Local Plan for public consultation having projected their housing need requirement to be 403 per year. This figure is determined by using the 2018 household projections without demonstrating any evidence the Government would be endorsing them at the start of the consultation.
It is clear this strategy of speculating on what household projections would be used by the government to determine housing need now results in the Draft Plan being fatally flawed and therefore the Local Plan is unsound and the council’s public consultation on the draft cannot be considered to be fair or factual.
So it is time for the leadership to empty the trash bin and find the 2017 draft, wipe it down and present it again. Some of us can smile and say…. told you so!
The council were fully aware the government may well make changes to the algorithm when the government published their review on reforming the planning process. The Council chose to take a risk that the 2018 household projections would prevail.
Furthermore, this LPA (Local Planning Authority) was fully aware neighbouring LPA’s were lobbying government hard for a change in the housing need algorithm due to the large increase in housing need some were facing which they considered to be unfair.
Fareham Borough Council has removed some growth areas and potential development sites from the current defunct draft compared to the 2017 draft, those sites may well be required to be reinstated so future projected housing need can be met. In fact, those sites are almost certain to be.
Any public consultation on the published Draft Local Plan proposals required a degree of certainty, what we had was uncertainly and therefore the public could not comment with any sense of confidence the housing need number would not increase and therefore requiring other housing allocations to be identified to meet the projected housing need of this LPA.
There is also a possibility that changes to the housing need algorithm may result in neighbouring LPA’s being pushed into a position where they have unmet housing need while other neighbouring LPA’s who have established they have unmet need may well see their present unmet need increase. These potential adjustments could potentially have a major impact on this LPA’s local plan overall projected housing numbers. Yes, more housing on our Greenfields.
The data underpinning housing numbers presented to the public to comment on was based on supposition and therefore the public was being asked to comment on a local plan that may very well have to be amended in any case.
In light of the government now publishing its final thoughts on ‘Planning for the future’ and clarifying the calculation to be used by LPA’s to determine housing need projections, it is clear the 2019 Draft Local Plan will need to be revisited and updated to reflect this LPA’s housing need requirement and therefore making the current draft unsound.
Any amendments to the Draft Local Plan, addressing the increase in housing need this LPA now faces through new housing allocations having to be identified will require a further period of public consultation if the threshold of soundness is to be achieved.
The 2019 draft Local Plan does not meet the threshold of soundness required to enable the Council to Publish the plan and submit it to Government.
Borrowing a line from honest John – our council leadership has once again messed up, sadly, don’t expect any apologies any time soon.