Friday, 22 February 2019

Dorset and the Housing Delivery Test results

The housing delivery test results for Dorset published this week make interesting reading.  Purbeck, West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland benefit from lower housing projection requirement figures than set out in their published plans and therefore are seen to be meeting their needs (with about a 30% margin of comfort).  The conurbation, East and North Dorset are all struggling, at least 15% below their requirements, and will have a 20% (rather than 5%) buffer applied to their 5 year housing land supply requirement in order to encourage the release of more housing land. 

The question will then turn to the impact this may have on the new authorities post-April.  There are no ‘split’ figures as yet for East Dorset and Christchurch, but, based on the joint figure, rural Dorset just scrapes through meeting 102% of its needs.  Whether this will ‘save’ North and East Dorset’s bacon from April onwards has yet to be seen.  Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole will continue to require a buffer regardless.
A revised NPPF has been also been published, bringing the guidance up-to-date with a few “minor clarifications” which appear to be related to the housing delivery tests, the definition and deliverable development and also in relation to using the presumption in favour of sustainable development when the Habitats regulations requires and appropriate assessment of the impacts.  Nothing that should cause major panic.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Double referendum

Nearly neighbours, Holwell and Hazelbury Bryan parishes both went to the polls last week for their respective Neighbourhood Plans.  Both plans tackled this issue of how much housing should be built and where it should go.

Despite the rather wintry conditions both had a good turnout of around 45% of the electorate, and a solid 'yes' vote (82% in Holwell and an impressive 92% in Hazelbury Bryan). 

Hazelbury Bryan in particular has been besieged by planning applications for housing outside the settlement boundary.  These have been vying for approval in the light of North Dorset's housing shortfall, trying to get in before the Neighbourhood Plan plugs the gap.  Just a week before the referendum an application for up to 35 dwellings had been recommended for approval, but members decided to go against their officer's advice to give great weight to the emerging plan.  The Neighbourhood Plan should now hopefully get the attention it deserves in future officer decisions.

Congratulations to both groups for all their work, which was clearly supported by local residents.