Friday, 5 August 2011

Planning Policy Panel says no to 54,000 figure

At yesterday’s meeting of the Planning Policy Advisory Panel, councillors did not support the recommendation to set a housing target of 54,000 new properties between 2010 and 2030.

The figure that will be recommended to the Council’s ruling Cabinet for the next stage of consultation was 40,000.

As expected, a range of different views were expressed and the meeting lasted from 10.00 in the morning to 4.30 in the afternoon.

I argued that we had consulted the public and we should listen to the views of town and parish councils, voluntary and community and other groups. Most had shown support for lower or medium levels of growth (see previous blog).

I also argued that Cornwall had had growth rates as high as, or higher than, other parts of the United Kingdom and that this could not go on indefinitely.

I also challenged projections on the extent of new households being generated from within Cornwall by the trend towards smaller household sizes (people living longer, more single person households, etc).

At a previous briefing we were told that in 1991, the average household size was 2.46 persons and had gone down to 2.32 persons in 2001 and was 2.27 persons now.

It was suggested that the projected figure for 2030 would be 2.1 persons per household and that we would therefore need to provide 30,000 new homes to stand still (ie. zero net in-migration). I did my own calculations which came to a vastly different conclusion and latterly the Council revised the projection to 2.2 persons per household.

In terms of the main debate, some members said that they were “content” with the 54,000 figure, others argued for a lower figure.

A proposal to support 52,000 was moved and I then moved an amendment for 40,000, arguing that the priority was far-reaching policies to maximmise the delivery of proper local-needs housing - not high growth dominated by open market housing. A further amendment for 48,000 was moved and the original proposal withdrawn.

The vote was extremely close and the votes were split across parties. Six members supported the 40,000 figure (1 MK, 1 Conservative, 1 Lib Dem and 3 Independents) while five supported the 48,000 figure (3 Conservatives, 1 Lib Dem and 1 Independent).

Much work still has to be done on the Core Strategy document, the policies within it and how much housing is appropriate for the different areas of Cornwall. I will feedback more information in the near-future, in particular, whether Cabinet supports our recommendation.

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