Six councils ask government to confirm their housing land supply positions for a year

Six local authorities have indicated they intend to submit an Annual Position Statement (APS) in a bid to confirm that they have a five-year housing land supply, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Milton Keynes is among six councils seeking to confirm a five-year housing land supply. Image: mattbuck / Wikimedia Commons
Milton Keynes is among six councils seeking to confirm a five-year housing land supply. Image: mattbuck / Wikimedia Commons

APSs were introduced in the 2018 revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and allow a local authority with a recently adopted plan to confirm its housing land supply position for a year.

Councils must indicate their intention to submit an APS by 1 April each year, then submit a draft statement by 31 July. If a five-year supply is confirmed by an inspector, it cannot be challenged until 31 October the following year.

PINS is meant to make its decision before the end of October in the same year. However, last year the inspectorate missed this deadline and decisions on the year’s statements were only published at the start of this year.

The latest list of councils seeking to secure their five year positions, published this week, reveals that Wyre Council, the only local authority to have an APS approved to date, is seeking to confirm its housing land supply position for another year, alongside five other councils.

Fylde Borough Council, which saw its proposed APS rejected by the Planning Inspectorate last year, is again seeking to confirm its housing land supply position. In February, Fylde Council said it was considering launching a judicial review against the PINS APS ruling.

Milton Keynes Council, South Kesteven District Council, Stockton on Tees Borough Council, and Sunderland City Council have all also indicated they intend to submit an APS for approval this year.

Milton Keynes Council adopted a local plan in March last year which claimed a housing land supply of 6.42 years. However, last September, a planning inspector found the council could only demonstrate a supply of 4.4 years.

According to research by consultancy Savills, South Kesteven District Council published a statement in April last year outlining housing land supply for 5.95 years. In November, according to Savills, Stockton on Tees Borough Council identified a 6.59 year housing land supply, while Sunderland City Council claimed a 6.1 year supply in May 2019.

Nine local authorities announced their intention to submit an APS before 1 April 2019, but only three went on to do so: Fylde Borough Council; Mid Sussex District Council; and Wyre Council. Of these, only Wyre saw its APS approved by PINS. 

The inspectorate rejected Mid Sussex’s APS because the authority’s local plan had been adopted in March 2018 and therefore wasn’t "recently adopted". Fylde’s APS was rejected on the basis that the council could not supports its claimed 5.1 years’ housing land supply.

While Wyre Council’s APS was approved, the inspector downgraded its proposed supply from 5.69 years to 5.18 years, after finding that ten sites allocated for the provision of 313 homes were unsuitable.

Commenting on the latest list of councils, Jonathan Dixon, planning director at Savills, said: “In seeking to confirm their five-year land supply positions from April 2020, each local planning authority will be relying on projected delivery rates. 

"Given the current coronavirus crisis, the Planning Inspectorate will be under pressure to ensure that these delivery rates are robust and reflective of reality and not simply a projection forward of what might previously have been assumed.”

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