DefeND (Defend North Devon) Papers
16 December 2013
Area is being ‘softened up’ for a New Town says DEFEND North Devon
Councils in danger of capitulating to government’s ‘developer goldrush’
The people of North Devon and Torridge are being led to believe that massive new housebuilding development in the area is inevitable, and that the only solution is to build a new town between Bideford and Barnstaple, according to campaign group DEFEND North Devon.
“There have been weak signals of this for some weeks but the statement by NDC Planning Committee chairman Eric Ley in last week’s Journal showed that the process has started in earnest”, said DEFEND chairman Steve Crowther.
“The government’s current housebuilding bonanza – designed purely to stimulate economic indicators nationally – is now being used to convince Councillors that they have no alternative but to build on greenfield sites.
“In fact, a radical rethink is needed, before we throw up thousands of houses without any of the economic or social infrastructure needed to support them.”
5-Year Land Supply ‘trap’
The Government’s requirement for all Councils to be able to demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply is a Catch-22 which is providing large developers with an almost limitless opportunity to bank land, says the group.
“NDC’s planning officers are keen to demonstrate that they have the 5-year land supply required by the National Planning Policy Framework, but in reality the system is geared to prevent them achieving it, and is being ruthlessly exploited by the large developers.
“By the latest planning estimates, North Devon ‘requires’ over 8,000 new homes over the next 18 years – an estimate which has gone up 2,000 in the last year, incidentally – and the government insists that we have an available supply of land for 3,600 houses over the next five years. If we can’t demonstrate that, the Planning Committee is powerless to refuse any development application, as we saw in the recent Larkbear case.
Even when the new North Devon Local Plan is published next year – after significant delays – it will still show less than 5 years of available housing land.
“Even when a developer gets permission to build 820 houses, until they are actually built, they still don’t contribute to the 5-Year Land Supply. It’s a Catch-22, and the developers are well aware of it.
“Housebuilders are currently exploiting this loophole all over the country; banking the planning permissions which Councils are compelled to give them under the rules, but holding back actual development until the housing market takes off and they can make bigger profits.
“North Devon doesn’t need a New Town. It needs sensible, planned strategic development, appropriate to a region with a currently static population, in which all the predicted population growth in the next 20 years is among the over-65s”, said Mr Crowther.
Keywords: Land supply, 5YHLS, Local Plan, CIL