Welsh Government proposes scrapping five-year housing land supply requirement

Local authorities in Wales would no longer be required to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply under plans being considered by the Welsh Government.

Welsh National Assembly. Image: Flickr / Andrew Gustar
Welsh National Assembly. Image: Flickr / Andrew Gustar

Proposals published for consultation this week suggest councils will instead be monitored on actual housing delivery against targets set in local plans.

Planning Policy Wales, which was last updated in April this year, requires local authorities to demonstrate that they have a five-year supply of deliverable land for housing and to monitor this position on an annual basis.

However, the Welsh Government said that, as of 1 April 2018, 19 out of 25 Welsh local planning authorities were unable to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply.

The Welsh Government cited concerns that its five-year housing land supply policy was allowing developers to "query the deliverability of allocated sites", undermining councils’ five-year land supply positions, and opening up the possibility of developers "gaining planning permission for additional sites not allocated in local development plans".

In July last year, responding to planning authorities’ concerns about the level of speculative applications being received on sites not allocated in local plans, the Welsh Government suspended a policy in its Technical Advice Note 1 that attached "considerable weight" to the lack of a five-year housing land supply as a material consideration in determining planning applications.

Under the plans currenting being consulted upon, Technical Advice Note 1, which provides guidance on the preparation of a five-year housing land supply, would be revoked in its entirety.

Welsh housing minister Julie James said: "The changes remove the five-year housing land supply policy and replace it with a policy statement making it explicit that the housing trajectory will be the basis for monitoring the delivery of development plan housing requirements as part of annual monitoring reports.

"I consider that this approach would ensure that the monitoring of housing delivery, including the response to under-delivery, is an integral part of the process of development plan monitoring and review."

Paul Williams, associate director at consultancy Savills' planning team in Cardiff, said: "If this were to come into effect it would remove one of the essential checks and balances that underpin an effective functioning of the planning system.

"The proposed replacement system would rely on a cumbersome mechanism to respond to a pressing problem when under provision is identified. Ultimately, the changes proposed are more likely to harm the supply of new housing than improve it."

The Welsh Government is also currently consulting on a National Development Framework which sets out a spatial strategy for the country.

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