Agenda item

Notice of Motions in accordance with Procedure Rule 12

The following motion submitted in accordance with Procedure Rule 12 of the Meeting Procedure Rules has been proposed by Councillor Richard Burton and seconded by Councillor David Brown:-

 

In August 2020 the Government proposed reforms to the current ‘Standard Method’ formula used to determine housing demand in each local authority. This formula seemingly dictates a house building target on BCP, which many people feel is unrealistic and puts undue pressure on our infrastructure, open spaces, Green Belt, and town centres. This figure uses out of date,2014, population growth data and takes no account of the unique circumstances that BCP has.

 

Even if our planners achieve these government targets there is a growing risk that, once gained, developers fail to progress their applications to achieve completed homes and there are no incentives to help with this problem in the planning White Paper.

 

While there is an obvious need for more housing within BCP, and we would acknowledge the hard work that Officers and the Working Group are doing in this area, we would like the assurance that the correct number and type of homes are being planned for and actually built.

 

This Council therefore resolves to:

·       Call on the Portfolio Holder to make the case to Government to use more recent data in their calculations, rather than the outdated 2014 numbers.

·       Call on the Portfolio Holder to write to our MPs and to the Secretary of State, to propose an amendment to the Planning Paper, to call on sites to be completed not just commenced, adding incentives and sanctions to developers to encourage them to complete homes on sites with planning permissions.

·       Ask the Planning Officers to proceed with haste with the Strategic Housing Market Needs Assessment, to enable us to work with our neighbouring authorities in a timely manner to fulfil any unmet needs.

 

Notification has been received that the motion is also supported by Councillors Vikki Slade, Sandra Moore, Tony Trent, George Farquhar, Mike Brooke, Marion Le Poidevin, Marcus Andrews and Lisa Lewis.

 

Minutes:

The following motion submitted in accordance with Procedure Rule 12 of the Meeting Procedure Rules was moved by Councillor Richard Burton and seconded by Councillor David Brown who reserved his right to speak later in the debate:-

 

“In August 2020 the Government proposed reforms to the current ‘Standard Method’ formula used to determine housing demand in each local authority. This formula seemingly dictates a house building target on BCP, which many people feel is unrealistic and puts undue pressure on our infrastructure, open spaces, Green Belt, and town centres. This figure uses out of date, 2014, population growth data and takes no account of the unique circumstances that BCP has.

 

Even if our planners achieve these government targets there is a growing risk that, once gained, developers fail to progress their applications to achieve completed homes and there are no incentives to help with this problem in the planning White Paper.

 

While there is an obvious need for more housing within BCP, and we would acknowledge the hard work that Officers and the Working Group are doing in this area, we would like the assurance that the correct number and type of homes are being planned for and actually built.

 

This Council therefore resolves to:

  • Call on the Portfolio Holder to make the case to Government to use more recent data in their calculations, rather than the outdated 2014 numbers.
  • Call on the Portfolio Holder to write to our MPs and to the Secretary of State, to propose an amendment to the Planning Paper, to call on sites to be completed not just commenced, adding incentives and sanctions to developers to encourage them to complete homes on sites with planning permissions.
  • Ask the Planning Officers to proceed with haste with the Strategic Housing Market Needs Assessment, to enable us to work with our neighbouring authorities in a timely manner to fulfil any unmet needs.”

 

Notification has been received that the motion is also supported by Councillors Vikki Slade, Sandra Moore, Tony Trent, George Farquhar, Mike Brooke, Marion Le Poidevin, Marcus Andrews and Lisa Lewis.

 

Councillor Burton in presenting the motion reported that the aim was to provide the correct number and type of houses for residents. He explained that currently the number of houses was imposed on the Council and it was necessary to ensure that the number being built was correct.  He explained that at present it was based on a standard method using 2014 numbers of population growth with an addition of an arbitrary uplift to make up for the historic shortfall in numbers. He highlighted that there had been changes since 2014 and that there was little consideration for the special nature of the BCP Council area.  Councillor Burton explained that the imposed number put extreme pressure on the green belt, other open spaces and the character of towns in the area but did not ensure that the correct number of houses would be built.  He explained that the ONS had questioned the use of the 2014 data with 2018 data showing substantial differences. Councillor Burton referred to the Government’s Planning Practice Guidance on housing which indicates that an alternative approach can be used if the Council can justify diverting from the standard method.  Members were informed that if the standard method was used, the Council risk forcing unnecessary homes on the population primarily built on what was green belt land.  Councillor Burton explained that when developers were granted planning permission there was no urgency placed on them to deliver the completed houses and the recent planning system white paper does not address this issue.  Members were informed that the relevant Government Committee had indicated that there was a need to speed up the delivery of housing.  However, the problem of build out rates needs to be tackled.  The Council at present had no control on when these houses were delivered and the council tax income that could be spent on infrastructure and services which would benefit residents.

 

Councillor Broadhead supported the motion and highlighted the serious challenges that the Council has with the formulation of a Local Plan and the issues with the current standard methodology which had been well rehearsed as the Government was very insistent that the Council had to use this method.  He highlighted that the Council had previously written to the Secretary of State.  Councillor Broadhead announced that in the last month he had again written to the Secretary of State to do exactly what the motion was asking to do, highlighting the challenges of the standard methodology and to urge the Government to use more recent data in their calculations.  Councillor Broadhead proposed an amendment which he had circulated to all Members of the Council as detailed below and referred to the additional work that the Council would be doing to try and tackle this point with the Government going forward.  He highlighted the piece of work being undertaken by the Planning Team looking at some of the demographic inaccuracies and difficulties with the standard methodology.

 

This Council therefore resolves to:

 

  • Acknowledge that the Portfolio Holder has written to the Secretary of State, once again making the case to Government to use more recent data in their calculations, rather than the outdated 2014 numbers, along with urging greater work to recognise sites to be completed not just commenced.
  • Ask the Planning Officers to continue to proceed with haste with the Strategic Housing Market Needs Assessment, to enable us to work with our neighbouring authorities in a timely manner to fulfil any unmet needs.
  • Call on the Portfolio Holder to go even further, and further write to the Secretary of State once the workstream around challenging the demographic assumptions embedded in the 2014 projections as a result of the recent Statistics Authority findings in respect of a complaint to the ONS is complete.

 

The amendment was seconded by Councillor Richard Burton.

 

Members in considering the amendment referred to the available data through the 2021 Census data, lobbying MPs to compel developers to complete residential schemes, the timescale for developments to be started and completed and a proposal that if this was not achieved full council tax would be payable on every home that was incomplete.  Councillor Phipps welcomed the challenge on the figures. She highlighted that if the Government was not supportive that the Council should look for exceptional circumstances.  Councillor Phipps advised that the NPPF indicates this can be done by justifying an alternative approach and the starting point was for a housing needs assessment based on realistic assumptions which would underpin the Local Plan.  Councillor Slade focussed on the incentives and penalties that she would like the Portfolio Holder to continue to stress with the Government which needs to be worked on.  She encouraged all Members to read the select Committee report.  Councillor Slade referred to the option of a tax on green field development and additional measures to support Council’s buying empty homes in its area.  She explained that the Centre for Policy Studies had recently wriiten that planning permissions need to move from being an option to develop to a contract filled and that was a good point to make to MPs and the Secretary of State next time Councillor Broadhead has the opportunity for discussion.  Councillor Farquhar reported that he could not support the amendment as he felt that the original motion calls upon the Council to alert the Government on allowing developers to continue without sanction or incentives to fulfil their commitments and continue a model of land banking or property banking.  Councillors commented on one of the key issues for developments to commence which was ensuring the infrastructure and investment matches.  A Councillor asked if the amendment had an impact on the 15,000 homes that were due to be delivered over the next five years which was a rate of 3,000 per year.  The impact of the restructure of local economies and where people choose to live in view of recent events was highlighted which may affect this issue. Councillor Brooks referred to the position in Christchurch relating to the number of developments with consent, but which had not yet commenced. He referred to a presentation that he had recently attended regarding the Christchurch urban extension and the opportunity to work with developers.

 

Councillor Brown sought clarification on the second bullet point in the amendment and the need to ensure that the housing targets were correct and to consider the impact on all services.

 

Councillor Broadhead in summing up clarified that he had rolled up the issue about the completed and not just commenced development sites into one bullet point and gave further assurance that when he writes the second letter shortly, he would reiterate that point.  He confirmed that the current housing figures that the Council was working towards on the standard method was around 2700. He highlighted that this was about a fair and balanced representation of the actual need the Council has for house building in the future.  He emphasised his two-pronged approach to challenge the 2014 figures that were not representative of the current position and secondly in recognition that the Government was wedded to those figures to challenge the actual figures within the 2014 standard methodology and make sure that they fairly represent the demographic in the BCP area.  Finally, the Portfolio Holder reported on the Council’s responsibility to prepare a full and balanced Local Plan. Councillor Burton had no further comments to add.

 

Councillors were asked to vote on the motion as amended and detailed below which was carried

 

This Council therefore resolves to:

 

  • Acknowledge that the Portfolio Holder has written to the Secretary of State, once again making the case to Government to use more recent data in their calculations, rather than the outdated 2014 numbers, along with urging greater work to recognise sites to be completed not just commenced.
  • Ask the Planning Officers to continue to proceed with haste with the Strategic Housing Market Needs Assessment, to enable us to work with our neighbouring authorities in a timely manner to fulfil any unmet needs.
  • Call on the Portfolio Holder to go even further, and further write to the Secretary of State once the workstream around challenging the demographic assumptions embedded in the 2014 projections as a result of the recent Statistics Authority findings in respect of a complaint to the ONS is complete.

 

Councillor Farquhar wished to be recorded as voting against the motion as amended.

 

Voting: Agreed