Thanet could be at increased risk of being stripped of its powers to decide where new homes are built with the introduction of government planning rules tomorrow (March 5).
New housing targets are to be set using a government formula, which went out to consultation last year. This will standardise the way local authorities work out housing need as part of their local plan – a 20 year blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure.
It is likely to impact those authorities that do not have an up-to-date plan in place, such as Thanet.
Calculations would be made using household growth projections published by the Office of National Statistics, a second stage applies to any area where the average house prices are more than 4 times average earnings. The assessment would then go up by 0.25% for every 1% affordability ratio rises above 4. The number of key workers, such as nurses, teachers and police officers in the area will also be taken into account.
Current guidelines dictate a need for 17,140 new Thanet homes by 2031. The new formula could see that figure rise to more than 20,000.
Taking into account homes already built or issued planning permission, some 9,300 properties still need to be accommodated, That could rise to 11.978 under the latest proposals.
Housing Secretary Sajid Javid has told the Sunday Times he will be “breathing down (the) necks” of local authorities “every day and night” to ensure the home building targets are met.
Mr Javid said councils that fail to meet their targets will be stripped of the right to decide what is built within their boundaries, with inspectors making the decisions instead.
Last November Mr Javid warned 15 local authorities which had failed to produce an up to date local plan, including Thanet, of the government’s intention to intervene.
The publication stage of Thanet’s plan was voted down by councillors on January 18 by 35 against to 20 in favour.
Following the vote Thanet council wrote to the Secretary to say a new plan could take between 8-10 months to complete.
Since that letter was sent the UKIP administration has come to an end following the collapse of the group at TDC and the ensuing resignation of council leader Chris Wells.
A leadership election on March 1 resulted in Conservative Bob Bayford being voted into the top spot. He will now lead a minority Tory administration at the council.
Speaking to The Isle of Thanet News yesterday (March 3) Cllr Bayford said getting Thanet’s local plan back on track would be a priority.
He said: “The Local Plan will, of course, be a priority. We need to look and see what can be done. I would like to revisit it and get on with getting it out for comment, which is what failed to happen on January 18. I would hope to do this fairly quickly, but we need to look to see where officers have taken it over the last month.”
Cllr Bayford reiterated the party’s backing of aviation-use at Manston and said this will be re-examined in the context of the local plan.
Cllr Bayford said he, along with MPs Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale, had met Mr Javid but it was unclear how much leniency, if any, would be shown towards the isle.
Government Housing White Paper
In the Government’s Housing White Paper it states: “We are legislating through the Neighbourhood Planning Bill to put beyond doubt the requirement for all areas to be covered by a plan.
“Authorities that fail to ensure an up-to-date plan is in place are failing their communities by not recognising the homes and other facilities that local people need, and relying on ad hoc, speculative development that may not make the most of their area’s potential.
“Our proposals in this White Paper will make plans easier to produce, and we will provide authorities with the support they need. But, as we have indicated previously, we will, when necessary, intervene to ensure that plans are put in place, so that communities in the areas affected are not disadvantaged by unplanned growth.
“To incentivise authorities to get plans in place, in the absence of an up-to-date local or strategic plan we propose that by April 2018 the new methodology for calculating objectively assessed requirement would apply as the baseline for assessing five year housing land supply and housing delivery.”
In reference to developers the white paper says: “We will encourage greater diversity of homebuilders, by partnering
with smaller and medium-sized builders and contractors in the Accelerated Construction programme, and helping small and medium-sized builders access the loan finance they need.
“In return, the Government expects developers to build more homes, to engage with communities and promote the benefits of development, to focus on design and quality, and to build homes swiftly where permission is granted.”
PM Theresa May is due to unveil the planning proposals tomorrow.