Council withdraws local plan over housing land supply fears

A Derbyshire council has withdrawn its local plan from examination after concluding that it is unable to demonstrate a robust five-year housing land supply position.

Ripley town hall: headquarters of Amber Valley Borough Council (picture by JThomas, Geograph)
Ripley town hall: headquarters of Amber Valley Borough Council (picture by JThomas, Geograph)

In a statement issued last week, Amber Valley Borough Council expressed "regret" at having to withdraw its core strategy from examination after figures were received that meant it could no longer be confident that it can demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

In a letter to inspector Roy Foster, the local authority said that, despite having been confident last month that it "could demonstrate a supply of specific deliverable housing sites sufficient to satisfy a five-year demand, information has recently been received which undermines the assumptions on which that confidence was based such that officers now feel unable to defend that position at the examination".

The council said that recent discussions with relevant landowners and site promoters have caused it to conclude "reluctantly" that the number of homes currently forecast to be delivered by March 2020 "would have to reduced by some 226 dwellings".

"The effect of this unexpected and regrettable reduction is that the council’s stated five-year supply figure … would have to be reduced from 5,198 dwellings to 4,972 dwellings, against a five-year supply requirement of 5,052 dwellings. This would reduce the total supply to 4.92 years."

The council added that revisions needed to be made to its five-year supply position to take account of three sites where planning permission has now lapsed "and to correct the figure for another site with planning permission to accurately reflect the number of dwellings still to be completed on that site".

"The combination of these revisions would be the reduction of 84 dwellings from the five-year supply provision, reducing the figure to 4,888 dwellings (4.84 years)."

In the letter, the council said that it would not be practical to achieve a demonstrable five-year supply "through the identification of further sites for housing development, without revising its overall strategy for housing growth".

The council said it has "no option but to withdraw the core strategy at this stage so that time can be taken to bring forward new housing sites before the strategy is re-submitted for examination".

Allan Cox, leader of the council, said: "I am deeply dismayed that such a decision had to be made at the eleventh hour, after so much effort and expenditure on the process by so many.

"Regrettably, however, despite the fact that there are many sites within the borough that have been given planning approval by the council, the council has no powers to force developers to start building the houses, or influence the timeframe over which a site is developed."

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