Inspector warns council over housing shortfall

A Staffordshire district council has said that it is willing to identify land for an additional 900 homes after an inspector warned that its local plan fails to make adequate provision for housing need.

Lichfield: council to identify further site to address housing shortfall (picture: West Midlands Police)
Lichfield: council to identify further site to address housing shortfall (picture: West Midlands Police)

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In a note setting out his initial findings on Lichfield District Council’s local plan, planning inspector Robert Yuille said that he is satisfied that the authority has complied with the Localism Act’s duty to cooperate, which requires councils to consult and engage with their neighbours on cross-border planning issues.

But the inspector’s note added: "I am, however, concerned that the plan as submitted is unsound in that it does not make adequate provision for the objective assessment of housing need contained in its own evidence base."

The inspector said that the plan provides 7,700 dwellings to meet the needs of Lichfield district over the plan period. "This figure is below the council’s own assessment of housing need set out in its housing needs assessment and the council put forward no substantial reasons at the hearings as to why this should be," the note said.

In a letter responding to the inspector’s note, Richard King, strategic director of democratic, development and legal services at the council, confirmed that the authority "is willing to identify a further site (or sites) to address the current housing shortfall identified in your initial findings".
Ian Pritchard, cabinet member for development services at Lichfield District Council, said: "We are pleased with the inspector’s initial findings on our local plan. At this early stage, the inspector has indicated that, apart from the need to increase housing numbers in the district over the coming years, the key elements of our spatial strategy are sound.

"In relation to housing locations and numbers, the inspector confirmed we have identified the best sites, but that we need to incorporate more homes in our plan before it can be judged as sound overall.?

"With regards to housing numbers, the inspector has indicated that we need to make sure at least a further 900 homes are included in our plan between now and 2028. He has given us around six months to carry out this work, which will involve identifying potential housing sites, consulting again with local people and organisations and updating the plan to reflect the new homes."

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