Housing Supply Update

Preston City Council needs to allocate enough land to build 507 new homes every year for 5 years but despite sufficient land being allocated in the Local Plan and despite various planning applications being approved - developers have either not started building or are building at a very slow rate - and due to this, a Planning Inspector has decided that the City Council does not have a 5 year housing supply.

Although the shortfall applies across Preston, developers are concentrating their applications in greenfield areas. 

Whittingham and several other Parish Councils are appalled at this approach and wrote to the Director of Planning expressing extreme concern that if the approach is allowed to continue, villages will lose their rural identity. 

Extracts from his reply are as follows

The issue regarding the current Local Plan is that government policy allows for plans to be considered out-of-date if a 5 year supply cannot be demonstrated. Due to low delivery of housing a number of years back, we are not able to demonstrate this, recently highlighted at a planning public inquiry, despite the fact that the Council has done all it can to support development, grant permissions and increase the number of houses being built annually. It is very frustrating.

In terms of what the Council is doing to encourage developers to build, we cannot obligate a developer to build, we have no powers in this regard. However, work carried out through the city deal indicates that developers are on track in terms of the rate of development, targets for new build are being met but the focus needs to be on keeping up that momentum with the construction of new infrastructure such as the Preston Western Distributor and East/West Link Road. 

The new NPPF published late July sets out a formula for calculating housing need for each area and it appears that Prestons need figure will be substantially lower than the current one. It also allows authorities to start new, so to speak, so the backlog of under-provision, does not need to be added on.  

This could affect the way our 5 year supply is calculated, bringing us back to a position where we can easily demonstrate a 5 year supply. We are currently seeking Counsels legal advice on this to determine whether we can use this new figure in determining planning applications. 

If we can, then our local plan is up-to-date again and the weight attached to that becomes greater. It does not necessarily mean that all housing applications on non-allocated sites in rural areas are refused, but it does shift the planning balance in favour of the Local Plan again.

We have asked Mr Ben Wallace MP to contact the City Council to ensure that the legal advice is obtained as soon as possible.

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