Monday, 15 June 2015

More on Local Plan (Cornish Guardian article)

My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian will focus on what has happened to the Cornwall Local Plan. I have covered this topic on this blog last week and the article is repetition of some material. But in the spirit of completeness … it will be as follows:

I recently wrote about the Public Examination into key elements of the proposed Cornwall Local Plan, which took place at the Atlantic Hotel in Newquay (18th-23rd May).

It would be accurate to say that I set out my frustration at (i) how the production of Cornwall’s “planning blueprint” for the period from 2010 to 2030 has been “guided” or “controlled” by onerous constraints imposed by central government, and (ii) how a single Government Inspector has to check that the document is “sound” or – in others words – compliant with the policies of central government.

The Inspector, Simon Emerson, has released his initial findings and it has come as no surprise to me that he has ruled that the Public Examination be suspended for a period and that the unitary authority undertake more work on a range of topics.

He has instructed Cornwall Council, for example, to be clearer about the economic strategy within the document, to make the affordable housing targets less ambitious, and to review its approach to meeting the needs of Gypsy and Traveller communities.

But the key debate at the Atlantic Hotel focussed on the Local Plan’s increasingly unpopular housing target of 47,500 new properties for the period between 2010 and 2030.

Many people, including myself, have challenged the projections from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which underpin this high level of growth and which we consider flawed and inaccurate. But in his statement, the Inspector dismissed such views and decided that the housing target should be increased.

Mr Emerson has informed Cornwall Council that they should update their projections using the “inter-census mid-year estimates” – which were published after the document had been submitted – and he has decreed that the housing target number should go up by 7% to compensate for the number of permanent homes being lost to second “homes.”

He also stated the Council should investigate the possibility of a further, but limited, uplift to provide additional affordable housing.

However, in his ruling, he did not agree with the various large house-building firms, such as Wainhomes who argued that the housing target should be in the range of 71,980 - 99,716 new dwellings. The Inspector decided that such a “significant” increase – his words – would not be appropriate or even deliverable.

The implications of Mr Everson’s ruling will be considered at a meeting of the Council’s Planning Policy Advisory Committee on Wednesday 17th June.

1 comment:

craig weatherhill said...

Dick - what's MK's stance on the fact that the FCNM, in full effect for 14 months now, has played absolutely no part in the Local Plan, and was not even mentioned in December's debate which decided on the 47,500 houses? I refer in particular to Article 16 which forbids change to population proportions which the Local Plan will certainly bring about.