Worcestershire council must reconsider local plan housing figures, says inspector

Out-Law News | 08 Aug 2014 | 4:56 pm | 1 min. read

The examination hearing for a Worcestershire council's key planning document has been suspended after the examining inspector said more work was required to establish local housing needs.

Bromsgrove District Council submitted its local plan to the secretary of state for communities and local government for examination in March. Planning inspector Michael Hetherington wrote to the Council on 26 March raising concerns about the evidence base for the Council's objectively assessed housing need. After hearing sessions in June, the inspector issued his interim conclusions (19-page / 712 KB PDF) on 18 July, postponing examination of the plan and asking the Council to carry out further work on its assessment of local housing needs.

The Council initially set a figure of 6,980 dwellings as the district's housing needs by 2029, later reducing this to 6,390 dwellings. The inspector disagreed with the methodology used by the Council in deciding on its housing figures, noting that he felt that a figure of 6,840 dwellings, taking into account potential inward migration from the West Midlands conurbation, represented "a more robust demographic-led assessment of likely housing needs".

The inspector noted that even the figure of 6,840 dwellings might be inadequate, since it did not take into account the likely effects of expected employment growth in the district on commuting patterns and housing needs.  

Postponing the hearings, Hetheridge wrote: "I feel that further work is needed to ensure that an objective assessment of housing needs in Bromsgrove District is undertaken in line with national policy and guidance ...This should take account of economic evidence, as required by the planning policy guidance, but should also present realistic data on the impact of the forecast jobs increase in Bromsgrove District on commuting patterns."

The inspector asked the Council to prepare a schedule for further work and consultation and asked that the schedule be submitted to him by 1 September.