Our response to new homes target penalties

Our response to new homes target penalties

Our response to new homes target penalties

 Published: 12-Mar-2021

We have produced an action plan demonstrating how Government house building targets will be met as the impact of planning constraints imposed on us begin to become clear.

Earlier this year the Government announced that with its Housing Delivery Test target for the previous three financial years not having been reached, we must presume in favour of sustainable development when determining planning applications for new housing.

In addition, whilst we are progressing work on our emerging Local Plan to meet a Government deadline of adoption by 2023, we are currently unable to demonstrate we have a five year land supply for the new homes we need to be built to meet Government targets, adding to the pressure on us to approve developments.

The Government’s Housing Delivery Test measurement for 2020, which looks at the number of new homes developers have completed rather than the number of planning permissions granted, showed that for 2018-2020, 731 of the 1,043 new homes required by Government targets – less than 75% - were built in the Borough.

As a result, we must add an additional 20% land buffer to our five year land supply for housing development; presume in favour of sustainable development when deciding on planning applications; and produce an action plan to show how we will meet Housing Delivery Test targets in future years.

The housing targets announced by Government in December 2020 mean that as time progresses, the Borough’s housing need for a three year period will rise from 1,043 new homes to 1,965.

Cllr John Burden, Leader of Gravesham Borough Council, said: “We find ourselves in an increasingly difficult and untenable position as a result of falling short of the Government’s Housing Delivery Test targets and without being given the powers to force developers to deliver sites with planning permission.

“These housing targets are imposed on us by Government, and while we do not agree with them we have no option but to plan to meet them.

“If the new homes aren’t built in the numbers required by Government the amount of unplanned and speculative development will increase, placing greater demands on the Borough’s overstretched services and infrastructure. This could also result in planning decisions being taken away from elected members and local residents, and handed to Government inspectors, removing all local decision making.”

Cllr Burden added the impact of the Government measures was already being felt when it came to determining planning applications.

He said: “On sites where we would have been quite prepared to take a stand against development, for example the former Battle of Britain pub in Northfleet, we now have to recognise that as the application meets the Government’s requirement for the presumption of sustainable development as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, we have no option but to grant planning permission.

“If we don’t, we risk our local planning matters being handed over to the Planning Inspectorate who would without doubt release Green Belt sites not previously identified by ourselves for development to ensure targets are met.”

Our action plan looks at how we will act in our various roles to ensure more homes are built in the Borough, thus meeting Government targets; supply and demand issues; and what infrastructure and public service provision will be needed to support the new homes.

Cllr Burden added: “We should be under no illusion that we have to make very real efforts to meet the targets set for us by Government.

“There are a number of substantial developments that have already been granted permission or for which applications are pending for large brownfield sites in the Borough and we are working with developers to ensure those are built out.

“Work is due to start on The Charter in the town centre this month and we have worked with developers to make the most of other sites, for example raising the number of the new homes proposed for the canal basin area from the original figure of 650 up to the 1,500 that feature in that application.

“But we do not have enough of those sites to provide the five year land supply we need to show we have. All parts of the Borough have their parts to play in identifying sites that enable us to achieve that.”

 Last updated: 09-Apr-2021

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