• Issue 50

  • Sep 2019

The Source

Hertfordshire Council warns requirement will be missed again

Under the housing delivery test, 108 planning authorities were required by the government to produce an action plan after failing to deliver more than 95 per cent of its housing requirement, Welwyn Hatfield District Council was one of them.

The plan was required because the council built only 1,493 homes against a target of 1,701 between 2015 and 2018 (88 per cent); it was approved at a meeting of the authority’s cabinet earlier this month.

A report by Colin Haigh, head of planning at the council, said: “The housing delivery test action plan will be a key document to consider when determining planning applications, particularly in circumstances where the council is minded to refuse planning permission and especially if such decisions are appealed, as the plan will form part of the evidence base that the council is doing all it reasonably can to bring sites forward for development.”

The document also revealed that the council is expecting to miss its housing requirement by an even bigger gap this year. Figures in the document point towards a total rolling three-year housing delivery of 1,454 homes against a requirement of 2,033 between 2016 and 2019. At just 72% of the requirement, the council could face the most severe penalty under the test – the National Planning Policy Framework’s presumption in favour of sustainable development.

Haigh said that the estimated figures for housing delivery indicated that “the council will have to prepare another action plan by August 2020 and apply a 20 per cent buffer to our five-year housing land supply”.

The plan commits the council to progressing the adoption of its emerging local plan and the release of land from the green belt to enable urban extensions. However, the action plan says that the council was “resisting and is likely to continue to resist the early consideration of green belt sites.”

In April, it emerged that examination of the council’s local plan will run for at least two years, according to the latest timetable.

Other Key actions outlined in the action plan included determining planning applications, preparing section 106 agreements and discharging conditions for housing “as fast as reasonably possible”. The council will also review its process for determining minor applications to see if more can be done to increase the approval rate.