Surrey authority set to submit plan after warning of standard method risk

Guildford Borough Council is set to submit its local plan for examination after officers warned that a delay could see the authority face higher housing requirements under the government's proposed standard method for assessing housing need.

Guildford: meeting next week to consider local plan submission (picture: Tim Sheerman-Chase, Flickr)
Guildford: meeting next week to consider local plan submission (picture: Tim Sheerman-Chase, Flickr)

A full council meeting will next week be asked to approve the Surrey authority’s draft local plan for examination. "It is proposed to submit this plan to the secretary of state by 15 December 2017," a report to the meeting says.

The report said that any "significant delays" to the submission of the plan would "lead to a greater risk of government intervention and material changes in legislation".

"The recent consultation including the proposed approach to calculating the local housing need is a case in point," the report said.

"There are transitional arrangements envisaged that will enable a plan to progress based on the old methodology but this period will expire at the end of March 2018," the report added.

"The consequences of delay beyond this deadline will be an increased housing need figure and significant delay to the local plan."

Guildford Borough Council’s proposed submission plan is based on an objectively assessed housing need figure of 654 homes per year. But under the government’s proposed standard method for assessing housing need, the figure would be 789 dwellings per annum.

Paul Spooner, leader of the council, said: "We have reached a critical point in developing our new local plan that provides the framework to tackle local issues and balance community needs across our borough.

"Subject to council approval, we aim to submit the plan and associated documents for independent examination by the Planning Inspectorate next month."

Earlier this year, Guildford Borough Council published a revised version of the draft local plan, containing a reduced housing target and proposals to cut the number of homes allocated on green belt land during the plan period by 1,850 units.

The changes to the plan followed a reduction to the council’s objectively assessed need figure, produced after a recent strategic housing market assessment for the borough.

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