Inspector warns Hampshire council over housing numbers

A planning inspector has told a Hampshire council that he is 'seriously concerned' that its draft local plan will fail to deliver enough new homes in its current form.

Basingstoke: inspector flags local plan concerns
Basingstoke: inspector flags local plan concerns

A letter to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, sent on behalf of planning inspector Mike Fox, said he had raised a number of initial concerns relating to "fundamental matters at the heart of the local plan".

Issues of concern include housing need and provision. The letter pointed to measures in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which say that planning authorities need to meet the full objective assessment of housing need through their local plans.

"The submitted [local plan] figure of 748 dwellings per annum (dpa) is some way short of the South East Plan figure for the period to 2026 (945dpa)," the letter said.

It added that the inspector "cannot find any clear explanation for the choice of the local plan figure".

The note also questioned why the most recent Strategic Housing Market Assessment was based on a smaller area than its predecessors and whether factors such as cross-boundary migration, market signals and the needs for the major house types had been taken into account.

It stressed that the local plan "must include the appropriate level of detail for major development proposals, including strategic housing proposals".

The letter also raised concerns about other aspects of the plan, including sustainable development, transport and environment issues, saying that "some clarity is necessary to demonstrate that the local plan is deliverable at an environmentally acceptable standard".

Fox has asked for the council to provide a response by 28 November.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council cabinet member for planning cllr Mark Ruffell said: "We welcome the preliminary comments from the Inspector. It is only to be expected that the draft plan will receive extensive scrutiny and testing by the Inspector prior to him receiving the competing representations at the examination in public.

"We are working through the Inspector's points and will respond as quickly as we can, providing additional information and directing him towards the detailed evidence in the plan so that his initial questions and concerns will be addressed."

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