Cornwall’s Local Plan housing number set to be 52,500

The saga that is the Cornwall Local Plan (2010 – 2030) continues to rumble on. The Local Plan is it is suspended after the Planning Inspector at a public Examination said in his recommendations that the current housing numbers was too low. This was after months of debate on the numbers, with numbers ranging from 16,000 to 50,000. Prior to the Examination, the Council by a vote at full council settled on 47,000 homes between 2010 and 2030.

If the Council wants a Local Plan to be approved it cannot ignore the inspector, and therefore his direction was for the Local Plan housing numbers to be increased by 10%. This is further broken-down by 7% to take into account second homes, and 3% what is called churn, ie, those for sale, in probate and not in occupation. The figure the Council is looking like settling on is 52,500.

Now before people jump up and say where are you going to put 52,500 or where is the need for this number, I will explain this is not for another 52,500 houses in Cornwall. This number takes into account the 36,500 that have either been built, or have planning permission to be built since 2010. That means the Local Plan will require a further 16,000 to be built between 2010 and 2030. It is important to highlight this true number of new planning permission being approved, and not the overall target number.

At yesterday’s the Planning Policy Meeting, the committee agreed with reservations, the number of 52,500. There is angst amongst the committee members that this figure is a minimum, and not a maximum. However, when setting a minimum, you at least have a chance of refusing anything over this number if your Local Plan number is robust and backed up with evidence.

Arguing about settling on a lower figure is pointless after the Inspector has given clear guidance on what he expects to be a target. If the Council did set a lower target, then our plan would not be adopted. This would mean we could not prove a five-year land supply and therefore, any development would be approved as the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is clear with a Local Plan having to have a five-year land supply.

On the point of 7% for holiday homes/lets, this is not meaning 7% will be built for holiday homes/lets. This percentage is to take into account those home that have been built or will be built during the lifetime of the plan will not all end up as full-time occupation homes. Therefore, the inspector has said Cornwall’s plan must take this into account in the Local Plan. I do not like it, but this was a direction from the inspector, which imposible to ignore.

How will those numbers will be shared around Cornwall?  It is easier to give you the LINK to the actual numbers at page 42. However, for Helston, and the wider Community Network Area (CNA) which Porthleven rests in, the numbers are:

Helston:

  • 900 (old number), 1,200 (new number)
  • Completed or existing commitments since 2010 – 445
  • Remaining requirement for the plan between 2010 and 2030 – 755 (417 old target)

CNA area

  • 1,100 (requirement)
  • Completed or existing commitments since 2010 – 831
  • Remaining requirements 269

In Porthleven’s case, and working on a pro-rata distribution – as worked out by planning officers – would see a requirement for 81 additional dwellings in Porthleven. This is worked out from a target of 196, but with 113 already being built since 2010. The 113 includes the housing numbers from Trivisker and Shrubberies. The work on where, how and when these 81 homes will be delivered is something the Porthleven Neighbourhood Plan is working on.

The Local Plan is not only about housing numbers, but also includes economic growth and jobs. In the plan, there is a provision of 38,000 FTE jobs and employment space for 700,000m2. Like the housing numbers, these numbers take into account 10,000 FTE and 425,000m2.

On the subject of the percentage of affordable housing contained within the plan, I am disappointed with the percentage changes for Porthleven and Helston. I have always worked on both settlements having at minimum of 40% ratio of affordable. However, these figures have been reduced to 30% for Porthleven, and 25% for Helston. The reason is because the inspector said it could not be evidenced.

If you are looking at other neighbouring LA’s  their figures in either adopted or plans going through the inspections all have percentage figures of around 25%, a few have percentages as low at 10%.  So if you want your plan accepted with a higher affordable housing ratio, you will not unless you have robust evidence.

Though this is further complicated with the Government formula on what type of affordable a house is. As different types can mean different percentages of affordable.

Affordable housing (take the point on what is affordable) is needed in both settlement. Yet this new revised percentage number actually harms the aims of having more affordable houses. I do take the point, and it is worth highlighting when wanting higher affordable figure is no Section 106 for infrastructure like roads, open space contribution, and educational contribution can be sought. So you must have a balance on the right ratio of affordability, or else create another problem.

Many will not like certain aspects of the Local Plan, including me, but the Government has been crystal clear that if a local authority does not have a Local Plan, the Government will impose one on the LA and the figure they come up with is the one you are stuck with. I can tell you the figure will not be lower than the one currently (grudgingly) accepted by the Council.

From the PAC recommendation, the next stage will be for the Cabinet to give its backing, and finally, it goes to full council on the 15th December to make the final decision.

 

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