Jones; 5yr supply ‘not an exact science’

Extracts of CEC Leader Cllr Michael Jones update to full council yesterday:

“Whilst it is important that we do deliver on housing, it is also crucial that we continue to fight developers who put profit ahead of people, and development ahead of our countryside. That is why we are continuing to push hard on appeals for Cheshire residents. We believe that we can evidence at least a Five Year supply as was outlined in detail at Council in February but this is not an exact science.

We are working hard to prevent against unplanned, unsustainable development.

So what I set out below is an update on what this Council has done to protect our beautiful countryside:

Members; you do not need me to tell you that planning is an important and emotive issue. As ward councillors we are all, probably on a daily basis, approached by members of the public with concerns and issues. Many people are speculating about our five year land supply. They are asking the question, do we have an adequate supply or don’t we?

If only Planning were that simple!

It is vital that we send a message across the Borough and to London that we are doing our job which is to deliver the homes that the Borough and country need. Since March 2013 we have added over 6000 permissions (3800 since October 2013) and signed off more 106’s than ever before.

We are also top of our peer group in bringing empty homes back into use – 1236 in 2013 – the next authority in the league table was only half of this.

This means we bring in housing supply and improve the overall environment for our residents.

Whilst it is important that we do deliver on housing, it is also crucial that we continue to fight developers who put profit ahead of people, and development ahead of our countryside. That is why we are continuing to push hard on appeals for Cheshire residents. We believe that we can evidence at least a Five Year supply as was outlined in detail at Council in February but this is not an exact science.

We are working hard to prevent against unplanned, unsustainable development.

So what I set out below is an update on what this Council has done to protect our beautiful countryside:

We have passed our local plan with one of the highest housing numbers in the region and we are about to submit this to Government later this month – this means that by the end of this year we will have a fully adopted plan and expect a late summer examination.

We have approved over 6000 new homes with planning permissions over the last twelve months to further boost our Housing Land supply.

This council has always tried to refuse unwanted development, as reflected in the appeals we face.

These developers have extensive financial and legal resources and often trade information between themselves and start off with the advantage that we have to prove our position.

At appeals, developers challenge the Council in every way. This includes an analysis of all sites, what the build rates are on sites and also whether a site has a signed 106 agreement.

The Council is duty bound to show its evidence to the developer and to include only those sites that either have planning permission or will have permission within the next five years.

In October 2013 a Planning Inspector announced that we had failed to prove our five year supply, stating that we had a 4.2 year supply at the Sedgefield methodology and a 20% buffer, (the buffer is dependent on the “persistent under supply” on whether you have a 5% or 20% buffer).

We were very disappointed and we set about reviewing our position and we added 3800 new permissions since October 2013 and completed nearly all our outstanding 106 agreements, all making our numbers robust.

Furthermore, in March, the Secretary of State, after much campaigning by me, our local MPs and by a number of local authorities in a similar position to ourselves, introduced the National Planning Practice Guidance – the NPPG, effectively adding hundreds of permissions. We would say that the NPPG should include accommodation for older people and student accommodation. Both groups, at the two ends of the age spectrum, help make up our diverse society. It would be perverse not to include these categories. Including these groups makes our five year supply extremely robust.

So here are the numbers presented to you in a very detailed way.

To summarise, Cheshire East Council maintains that we do have a 5.10 years supply taking account a 20% buffer, 5.83% taking account of a 5% buffer and when we take account of provision within residential institutions (known as C2) as advised within the recent NPPG the supply is 7.9 years.

  5% buffer 20% With NPPG Advice
5 Year Target (dwellings) 1150 x 5 = 5750 1150 x 5 = 5750 1150 x 5 = 5750
Target (5750) including Shortfall (2130 + 122) 7880 + 122 (122 is allowance for Jan, Feb and march 2014) = 8002 7880 + 122 (122 is allowance for Jan, Feb and march 2014) = 8002 5750 +558 + 28 ** (558 is revised shortfall; 28 is allowance for Jan, Feb and March 2014) = 6336
Buffer 5% 20% 5%
Requirement including buffer 8402 (1680 units per annum) 9602 (1920 units per annum) 6653 (1331 units per annum)
Supply (dwellings)* 9787 9787 9787 plus additional C2 supply of 727 = 10514
Supply (years) 5.83 5.10 7.90

The vagaries of the system means that we may still continue to lose appeals, often with developers co-operating from appeal to appeal and with every planning committee being attended by representatives of developers scrutinising Member actions and comments. But we also continue to build our case and evidence base and I can announce that in a forthcoming appeal we will be using the best planning lawyer in the country.

We have to recognise in this system that the wealth of resources sits with the developers against Cheshire East Council, and indeed there are many instances where developers often put forward contradictory evidence – for example stating that they can only deliver very low build rates to support their position in planning appeals – but then when challenging our Local Plan housing numbers, state that the housing need and housing market demands far more housing than the 27 000 homes we are proposing – this is clearly a position we are pointing out to the Inspectorate.

This is an issue that affects all areas of the Borough and there is not a Member in this room who is not being undermined by speculative developers. I only support plan-led growth and we should expect consistency from Inspectors at the very least.

You have my commitment that my administration will work tirelessly to move this issue forward so that we protect our communities.

These issues are clearly putting stress into our planning system and I congratulate the team for their performance this year.

Given the volume of applications, the number of appeals and exceptional pressures in handling applications we have still retained performance of determining 49% of major applications within 13 weeks and minors/others within 68% and 82% respectively. I ask all the team and planning committees to keep pushing hard.

We are also introducing new arrangements for Member communication and engagement in the planning process. As part of our new planning structure we will have a team dedicated to liaison with the public and Members – this will be fully operational later this month. Also I have stated previously that all Members will be invited to pre-application discussions – it has taken some time but this will now happen and further details will be confirmed later this month also.  15th May 2014

read the full speech from Wilmslow.co.uk Lisa Reeves

 

 

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