Sussex council's core strategy found sound following increase in housing provision

Out-Law News | 22 Jul 2014 | 4:56 pm | 1 min. read

The core strategy of a Sussex local authority has been found sound by an independent planning inspector, after housing provision in an earlier version of the document was increased by 2,000 homes.

Rother District Council first submitted its core strategy, the local authority's main planning policy document, for examination in July 2012. The document set out the Council's plans for development in the district until 2028 and included a housing target of between 3,700 and 4,100 new dwellings. At the time of the initial examination in 2012, the core strategy was required to be in general conformity with the South East regional spatial strategy (SERS) and the examining inspector, Laura Graham recommended that the target be increased in order to conform to figures in the SERS.

Following the abolition of the SERS in 2013, the inspector recommended that the Council carry out a full review of the district's objectively assessed need for housing. The Council produced a strategic housing market assessment update (SHMA) based on 2011 interim figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and a strategic housing land availability assessment, and submitted a modified core strategy proposing 5,700 new homes by 2028.

Declaring the core strategy sound subject to the Council's recommended modifications, Graham said in her examination report (20-page / 236 KB PDF) dated 10 July that, while figures ought to be kept under review in case the post-economic downturn ONS projections underestimated housing need, she was satisfied that the SHMA was "an acceptable assessment of housing need".

Graham noted that the Council could only demonstrate a 4.3-year supply of housing land, rather than the five years required by the National Planning Policy Framework. However, the inspector was satisfied with the Council's approach of making up the shortfall of housing land provision across the total planning period, concluding that "there is a reasonable prospect that the housing land supply situation in Rother will improve considerably in the next few years".

The inspector agreed with the Council that the forthcoming completion of a link road between Bexhill and Hastings would allow development of a 1,300 urban extension and that the allocation of sites under the Council's emerging development and site allocations plan would further contribute to accelerated development of housing land.

The Council said in a statement that it intends to consider the final version of the document at a full Council meeting on 29 September.