Leader of the council seeks government support

Published Friday, 17 July 2020

Council Leader seeks government support to help protect the borough from unwarranted and speculative development.

Leader of Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council, Councillor Stuart Bray, has written to local MPs Dr Luke Evans and Edward Argar seeking the government’s support to help protect the borough from unwarranted and speculative development and urging the government to:
 

  • Remove the five year housing supply requirement for at least another year to allow for the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic to be addressed by the housing industry
  • Exclude the requirement for the Housing Delivery Test for 2020/21 due to the impact of the pandemic this year
  • Allow councils to rely on our current Local Plan Allocations and Neighbourhood Development Plans to direct where development should happen

 The letter states:

I am writing on behalf of the communities in Hinckley and Bosworth to seek your support from government to help protect the borough from unwarranted and speculative development. Two key measures can be taken, firstly by relaxing the requirements to demonstrate a five year housing supply and secondly to exclude the requirements to meet the three year ‘housing delivery’ test in 2020/21.
 
The Covid-19 crisis has led to housing developments not progressing on many sites and to delays in developers submitting planning applications as housing companies have furloughed staff.
 
Why is this so important and what do these requirements mean?
 
The Five Year Housing Requirement - is a requirement set by government in the National Planning Policy Framework. It highlights that councils are required to have enough sites ready for development to meet housing needs for the next five years. This means that there have to be enough permissions granted and land allocated, based on targets set by government, to deliver these housing numbers. For this council we are expected to deliver over 450 homes every year for the next five years.
 
If you can’t demonstrate this, government policy requires that on new applications for housing, regardless of location, should be approved unless there are clear exceptional circumstances.
 
The ‘Housing Delivery’ test is a further requirement introduced by government which measures how many homes have been built in the last three years against targets set by government.
 
The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in a significant slowdown on construction sites and a number of national housebuilders have forecasted 50% lower build out rates as a result of the crisis. However if you are unable to demonstrate the three year delivery test this also is likely to mean planning permissions get granted on unwanted locations.
 
Councils all over the country are experiencing speculative housing applications by land promotors and developers seeking to exploit this situation, which is causing untold misery and upset for many communities. Even when many of those consents are granted we are not seeing delivery. This creates a vicious circle and undermines the council’s ability to achieve a five year land supply and meet the three year delivery test.

So what do we need government to do?
 

  • Remove the five year housing supply requirement of at least another year to allow for the impacts of Covid-19 pandemic to be addressed by the housing industry.
  • Exclude the requirement for the Housing Delivery Test for 2020/21 due to the impact of the pandemic this year.
  • Allow councils to rely on our current Local Plan Allocations and Neighbourhood Development Plans to direct where development should happen.

When my administration came to power last May this council did not have a five year land supply. We consider we are well placed to help support local economic recovery but we want to have local control over where housing development happens, to safeguard our communities from unwarranted speculative development.
 
I therefore urge you to raise these issues and suggestions to your government, which I am sure will be well received by the communities of Hinckley and Bosworth.
 
I look forward to your support and response on this matter.
 
Yours sincerely
Stuart Bray
Leader of the Council