Havant Borough Council is urging central government to urgently reconsider its proposed planning system reforms which would see the number of homes in the borough nearly doubling.
The council has sent a formal response as part of the consultation and is robustly arguing against the proposed changes and highlighting the detrimental impact they would have on the borough.
The method currently used by government to calculate the minimum number of homes to be planned for is the Standard Housing Method. Each local authority has its own target, and Havant Borough Council’s current target is 504 new homes per annum. The proposed changes to the planning system would see this increase to 963 homes per annum – an increase of 91%.
Havant Borough Council considers itself a pro-development local authority with a history of swift action of developing Local Plans to meet informed and proven development need. Nonetheless, as a small, constrained and heavily urbanised local authority, site availability to meet housing need is extremely limited.
The council is currently in the final stages of developing a 15 year Local Plan which would see development at levels based on the current Standard Housing Method. The council is committed to building high level, quality, sustainable homes and this is achievable under the current Standard Housing Method with even a modest buffer.
The council recognises that development is needed because it ensures towns and communities stay relevant to the world around them and thrive in new opportunities that arise – but that the proposed new scale is too much for the borough.
Councillor Gary Hughes (Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Lead for Planning) said: “We have a moral obligation to meet the need for housing in our communities and make sure that our young people have the same opportunities that we have enjoyed. That is why I fully support our Local Plan’s provision of more than 500 new homes in the borough per year up to 2037.
“Nonetheless, with the amount of land that we have available, it is a struggle to get to this level and will require substantial intervention from the council to come close. To then propose almost doubling the figure is simply impossible and cannot be achieved.
“We are calling on the government to amend the proposed reforms to make sure that they are fair and realistic.”
Cllr Hughes’ robust response to government highlights that it would be impossible for the borough to meet the proposed new targets due to the constraints of the borough and the finite land available. Concern is also raised over the proposed targets forcing the council to allow any form of development, as under proposed changes it will also not have the capability to share housing targets with other authorities.
Furthermore, Councillor Hughes argues that The National Planning Policy Framework (which defines development for the nation) insists that all development meets three objectives – that they support local economic, social and environmental requirements. Councillor Hughes highlights that the proposed changes to the planning system contradicts existing policies which are known to support enhancing the natural, built and historic elements of our local environment.