Housing number concerns prompt more local plan work
Significant concerns about the number of new homes the borough could be forced to build in the future mean the blueprint for future development cannot go out to consultation with residents yet, the councillor leading on planning has announced.
Instead, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Infrastructure Cllr Jay Ganesh has agreed extra time for planners to identify the true level of local need for new homes.
The decision was taken at the council’s Cabinet meeting yesterday (Tuesday 27 September), with the next steps being agreed for this important work that will include making the case to the new Secretary of State for a new way of calculating housing needs that recognises local circumstances.
The council has been working towards updating the Basingstoke and Deane Local Plan, which will guide development and planning decisions in the borough to at least 2029. As part of this locations need to be earmarked for new homes to be built.
But councillors unanimously agreed that the standard method of calculating the number of new homes for the borough is flawed and leads to too high a figure, of around 17,000 new homes, that is not sustainable for the borough.
Cabinet Member for Planning and Infrastructure Cllr Jay Ganesh said: “We have been working proactively to move forward with the Local Plan so that we can take difficult decisions about future development and involve our communities in this important debate as soon as possible.
“Our local plan needs to support growth and change in the borough that meets the needs of our residents and visitors in a way that responds to the climate change agenda, ensures that communities are beautiful and sustainable and that our environment is protected and enhanced, supporting the ecological emergency declaration.
“It is important to keep the plan process going but this must be in a way that responds to local concerns and local circumstances, as well as national policy and guidance. At the current time it has become clear that it would not be appropriate to go out to consultation on a draft plan at this stage while such significant concerns around the housing numbers remain.
“We are all agreed, and I have heard loud and clear from the councillors representing our local communities, that extreme housing growth in Basingstoke and Deane needs to slow down so there is a much more sustainable future.
“There are significant challenges around how we identify the borough’s true housing need and it is only right that full consideration is given to this issue, including making a strong case to the government, to ensure we consult on a plan that we believe to be robust and appropriate to our local circumstances.”
A revised timetable for the work was agreed by the Cabinet that will see consultation on the Local Plan in autumn next year to allow the time for the work to be carried out.
The council will also continue to partner with other local authorities pushing for changes to the current planning system to ensure local circumstances are at its heart and to work with developers to ensure the building of already identified housing schemes to help meet the borough’s need for new homes.