Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Inspector finds North Somerset housing policies unsound

Out-Law News | 08 May 2014 | 4:39 pm | 1 min. read

A policy in North Somerset District Council’s core strategy setting out a housing requirement of 17,130 homes by 2026 did not comply with national guidance, a planning inspector has said.

The inspector had re-examined the policy following an order by the High Court last year which ruled that the adoption of the Council’s core strategy was unlawful. The High Court judge ordered a re-examination because the inspector who carried out the original examination had failed to give adequate reasons for his conclusions on housing figures.

The inspector said in a letter to the Council that the development of policy CS13 did not comply with national guidance (14-page / 222KB PDF) because it had not been prepared within “any clear strategic context” and had not been informed by an up-to-date strategic housing market assessment. “I do not consider that the policy is based on a full, objective assessment of housing needs in the housing market area,” he said.

The inspector said that the housing requirement had been set at the lowest end of the “robust” range identified in the study used to inform the policy. “This does not comply with the national objective of significantly boosting housing supply and is not, in my view, an example of positive planning,” he said.

The inspector set out a number of options available to the Council, including withdrawing the policies, which he said would enable the Council to carry out a "measured and proportionate review of both the housing policies and any consequential impacts on the adopted strategic policies where these require revision".

He also said the Council could propose a 'main modification' with a higher housing target, although he warned that this was not necessarily a "realistic way forward". 

The Council said in a statement that it was "hugely disappointed" by the inspector's conclusions. "We believe we had put forward a robust case aimed at achieving a better balance between homes and jobs in the district," it said.

"We will look very carefully at the inspector’s letter and formulate an appropriate response that reflects our ambition to have balanced and sustainable communities in North Somerset," the Council said.