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Housing targets may see unpopular developments given approval
HOUSEBUILDERS will keep trying to build large new housing estates against the wishes of elected councillors because of a government-imposed building target, a council report warns.
A vast swathe of Worcestershire is exposed to developers which want to build homes, because Wychavon District Council is still missing the five-year housing land supply target.
The target is set by government to boost the building of new homes, because of a national homes shortage.
At best, the council can show it has granted permission for enough homes to be built for the next four-and-a-half years.
The target is not arbitrary, taking account of population growth and other supporting evidence.
If councils cannot show they are granting enough planning applications permissions every year, they fall short of the target, like Wychavon.
If an unpopular planning application goes before Wychavon’s planning committee, and the councillors refuse to grant building permission, the application could instead be passed on appeal by a planning inspector because they could point to the fact the target is being missed.
A report by Wychavon’s own planning officers, published to planning committee members, states the council’s current target is for 455 a year. But last year Wychavon only had 313 new homes actually built.
Wychavon argues its target is based on outdated figures.
Earlier this year the committee’s decision to refuse 45 homes at Allesborough Farm, near Pershore, was overturned with the planning inspector in the appeal citing the “lack of a five-year land supply”.
Recently the Bovis Homes appeal against refusal to build 64 new homes on the old Army Medals office site in Worcester Road, Droitwich, was also successful, although it is not clear if land supply was a key issue in that case.
Also mentioned in the report is the 740-home development at Copcut Lane, Droitwich, which was passed by the councillors.
Although 740 homes have been allowed, only 350 count towards the target because big estates are built over a period of time.
Councillor Judy Pearce, elected planning chief, says the passage of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) – a large-scale housing plan for the next 18 years growth – will help the council, as it provides hard evidence of where homes should be built.
“We’ve had to let a few [housing applications] through because we haven’t got a five-year housing land supply and we weren’t far enough along the way with the SWDP,” she said.
“But since the latest version was considered on July 3, we’re in a better position.”
Councils are voting on whether to adopt the next phase of the SWDP in November.