Ipswich councillors back draft plan with reduced annual housing target

A Suffolk council has backed a reduced annual housing target in its emerging local plan that is almost 10 per cent lower than the requirement in its current strategy after applying the government's standard housing need method.

Housing in Ipswich, Suffolk. Image by puffin11k, Flickr
Housing in Ipswich, Suffolk. Image by puffin11k, Flickr

Members of Ipswich Borough Council's executive last night voted to proceed with a review of the council's 2017 adopted local plan that includes a revised annual housing requirement of 445 homes.

This figure is based on a calculation using the government's new standard method of assessing housing need. 

The current core strategy review has a requirement of 489 homes per year up until 2031. The revised plan would cover the period up to 2036.

report to a meeting of the council’s executive said that national planning policy "states that the standard methodology should be used as the basis for identifying the local housing need, unless there are exceptional circumstances that justify an alternative approach which also reflects current and future demographic trends and market signals."

It added that "there are no exceptional reasons which would justify diverting from this standard approach in relation to this borough".

The report said conditions in Planning Practice Guidance allowing them to set a higher target than the standard method indicates does not apply to its situation.

It said: "These circumstances may include where there are growth strategies for the area, for example where housing deals are in place, where strategic infrastructure improvements may increase demand for homes, or where unmet need is being taken from an adjoining local planning authority.

"These circumstances do not apply in Ipswich and consequently the housing need figure of 445 dwellings per annum will be the housing requirement incorporated into the final draft Ipswich local plan."

The revised plan proposes a reduced annual housing requirement between 2018 and 2024 when supply will rely heavily on brownfield sites, the report said.

The requirement will then increase for the final years of the plan when completions at the proposed 3,500-home Ipswich Garden Suburb will start to be completed.

The report said the council’s strategic housing market assessment identified that 35 per cent of new homes should be affordable but it added that "the whole plan viability evidence indicates that this would not be deliverable in Ipswich".

The council has decided to retain the existing requirement for 15 per cent affordable homes on all sites of more than 15 homes.

The draft plan also proposes a reduction in land allocated for employment uses from 32.2 hectares to 27.36 hectares. 

The authority will now consult on the draft plan and said it hopes to submit it to the Planning Inspectorate by March 2020.

Last year, neighbouring Suffolk Coastal District Council approved a consultation on its own local plan, proposing provision for at least 10,900 new dwellings up to 2036.

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