The Local Plan
All local authorities within the UK by law have to provide a local plan. The local plan informs the Development Control department of the planning authority where to permit and reject planning applications. In our case here in Eastleigh, the planning authority is Eastleigh Borough Council. The local plan covers a period of around 20 years and enables the District Council Planning Policy team to plan for the future in terms of housing, jobs and infrastructure. Eastleigh’s local plan process was disrupted several years ago by Hampshire County Council when they withdrew a parcel of land at the last moment, which would have allowed 1,000 homes to be built there. That would have been for the plan period of 2011 to 2029. It is now 2016 and we still do not have a local plan in place that is recognized by the Secretary of State for Housing.
The 2011 to 2029 local plan headlined around about 10,000 homes before it was rejected by the Secretary of State for Housing’s department for too few houses. It was decided, by Eastleigh Council that rather than modify an already outdated plan, to start all over again, so now the local plan period is 2011 to 2036. With a rapidly changing world and rapidly changing local demography, the housing requirement was adjudged to be increasing over the local plan period, so now the headline housing numbers are in the order of 17,000. Before a local plan can be submitted to Government, a public consultation has to take place. The latest local plan public consultation was ratified by Eastleigh Borough councillors at the December Full Council meeting. The consultation started before Christmas and ended on 17 February 2016.
The Emerging Eastleigh Local Plan
The local plan public consultation gives local residents an opportunity to comment on the plan being developed by the planning policy officers at Eastleigh council. All local landowners are asked if they want to submit a Strategic Land Assessment pro forma and if they do; their land is added to the planning process. In West End, the majority of landowners north of the M27 have submitted such a pro forma. If all this land is taken up, then 1,000s of new homes can be built in the plan period up to 2036. However, of course it is not as straight forward as that since the many consultees have to be asked for their view on the affect the new homes would have on the infrastructure. This is where you, the public come in, because you MUST make you views known to the planning policy team at Eastleigh Borough Council during the consultation period. A local drop-in session was held at Itchen Valley Country Park on Thursday 28 January. For more information view Eastleigh Borough Council’s webpage Eastleigh Borough Local Plan 2011-2036
The public exhibitions and consultation period have now finished, more information on Eastleigh’s emerging local plan can be found at West End Parish Council and Hedge End Town Council by contacting the Clerks or comments made on-line via the consultation form.
Many local authorities around the country are finding that their local plans are being rejected by the Secretary of State for Housing as not planning for sufficient numbers of houses. This is in recent recognition that too few houses have been built during the previous three decades. Without an adopted local plan, local authorities are vulnerable to speculative planning applications. In the autumn of 2015, a number of these unallocated applications started to appear in Eastleigh. All have been refused planning permission and all have appealed. Some appeals have been won and some lost. In April 2016, the appeal against the Hedge End, West End and Botley (HEWEB) Local Area Committee to refuse planning permission for the Bubb Lane development of 328 dwellings the previous year was heard at the Ageas Bowl. Fortunately, for democracy, the planning inspector upheld the local councillors’ decision to refuse planning permission. A month later in May 2016, another public inquiry was held at the Ageas Bowl relating to an appeal against the HEWEB LAC’s decision to refuse another unallocated planning application, this time for 620 dwellings on the land north of Hedge End railway station. The principal reason for refusal for both of these applications was that they would have filled in the strategic gap between settlements. It is a policy of Eastleigh Borough Council to separate communities to allow them to retain their individual identities. Unfortunately, the planning inspector decided to rule against the local councillors’ decision not to permit and allowed the appeal meaning that 620 dwellings on the land north of Hedge End railway station can now go ahead.
Residents regularly ask me questions about our community. Below are typical of those asked;-
- Can non-Eastleigh residents apply to be listed on the Eastleigh Borough Council social housing register?
Answer: Yes. See Hampshire Home Choice Allocations Framework pages 4 and 7
- What financial benefits does Eastleigh Borough Council gain in new homes being constructed in the borough?
Answer: There is a mixture of financial benefits, such as;
- Developers’ Contributions – Section 106 payments, which are negotiated capital monies paid by developers’ towards highways and other infrastructure needs created by development plus negotiation on the percentage of affordable homes per development
- Community Infrastructure Levy – Came into being in 2010 and is similar to developers contributions (Where a local plan has been adopted)
- New Homes Bonus. A form of reward from Government for aiding the construction of new homes
- Council tax
- Special Purpose Vehicle
Since 1997, developers’ are required to construct up to 35% affordable or social housing on each new development. The exact number is negotiable with the council 2010 to 2015 government policy: house building Policy paper The truth about property developers’: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities
Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)
This planning charge came into force on 6 April 2010 through the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010. In areas where a local plan has been adopted, development may be liable for a charge under the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), if the local planning authority has chosen to set a charge. CIL is a general levy on all development, designed to raise funds for infrastructure needed generally because of an increase in development in an area. However, there is confusion as with many to the difference with developers’ contributions. About the Community Infrastructure Levy
New Homes Bonus
The Council receives the New Homes Bonus amounting to £2.67m in 2016/17. It is anticipated to fall gradually to £1.3m in 2020/1. This is used to fund capital projects and not to subsidise ongoing revenue costs. See para 40 et seq of the report on the (then proposed) budget 2017/18 presented to cabinet on 16 Feb 2017 which can be found on the EBC website. Source: Policy and Performance Scrutiny Panel Report
The Council will of course raise Council Tax on the new homes to meet Revenue costs. The Council tax on a band D property averages £130.07 (per para 13 of proposed budget). That is less than ten percent of the total Council tax bill as Hants CC, the police and the Fire Service all raise separate precepts, which are totally outside the control of EBC. Therefore, even if 750 homes per annum are built (slightly more than the proposed Local plan) and these were on average band D (although a greater number of smaller units are being built) this adds less than £100,000 per annum to the Council’s income each year. Moreover, of course, while individual homes add negligible costs, significant numbers do add costs- e.g. when you need to add a new dustbin round. Extra homes are not the way in which we keep council tax under control.
Special Purpose Vehicle
In addition, the council has entered in to a Special Purpose Vehicle agreement to facilitate the building of more homes in Eastleigh for which financial benefits accrue. (In December 2014, Aspect Building Communities Ltd. was incorporated. This company is a partnership between Eastleigh Borough Council, Fareham Borough Council, First Wessex and Radian Housing Associations for the purpose of facilitating housing and economic development in a sustainable manner. This company primarily provides independent day-to-day management; control and administration of specific housing projects that the partners have agreed to enter into). Source: Audit and Resources Committee meeting Minutes March 2017
- Who decides how many houses have to be built in the Solent area during the next 20 years and what share each local authority should have?
Answer: This is decided by the Joint Committee of the Partnership of Urban South Hampshire (PUSH). It comprises council leaders and CEOs of the 12 member local authorities.
The report to the Joint Committee was derived from the very detailed PUSH Spatial Position Statement, which sets out the employment and housing development needed to promote economic growth and jobs through to 2034. An area of interest in the Solent region is transport. Paragraph 6.12 says the following; Delivery of improvements to the transport networks is clearly of paramount importance, and Solent Transport have been closely involved in the development of the Position Statement, and discussions are underway with the highway authorities, Highways England, Network Rail, and the South Hampshire Bus Operators Association.
The number of dwellings to be constructed in the Solent area up to 2034 was decided as the result a GL Hearn report commissioned by PUSH. Once the overall forecast dwelling numbers were calculated, the Joint Committee negotiated the breakdown. In addition, there is a duty of cooperation for neighbouring authorities to meet unmet needs. Portsmouth and Southampton are in this position with Southampton’s unmet needs over the next 20 years being 6,200 dwellings. The Solent area dwelling forecast is 104,350 for which Eastleigh’s share is 14,950 dwellings. See page 10 of the report. The term Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) is used within the Position Statement, which refers to the evidence of the need for development. Another frequently used term is Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), which ties in the OAN to national guidance. The national guidance states that the starting point for defining needs should be the Government’s latest demographic projections. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that where possible development should be located to facilitate sustainable modes of travel and that development should only be refused on transport grounds where the cumulative impacts are severe. An initial run of the sub regional transport model has also been undertaken, which incorporates the proposed development, the consequent increase in trips, and is aligned to the Solent LEP‟s Transport Investment Plan.
Overall, there are numerous documents on the webpage PUSH Spatial Position Statement to 2034, for which the answers to many questions may be found.
The documentation describes the process to plan for sufficient housing, jobs and infrastructure, but what I am not seeing, is the likelihood of funding for transport infrastructure, GPs and teachers in particular.
- Government say that local authorities should have a five-year housing land supply, but local authorities can only grant planning permission and have a limited ability to construct houses. How does Government decide what the level of the five-year housing supply is and what penalties do Government impose on authorities that do not meet that level?
Answer: In June 2015 the following conclusion was noted; Whilst on the basis of the methodology outlined above the Council is unable to demonstrate a 5-year supply of housing land at the current time, the Council is committed to facilitating housing delivery wherever possible to boost supply in order to be able to demonstrate a five year housing land supply position as soon as possible. See paragraph 8.1, of the Five Year Housing Land Supply Position: Housing Implementation Strategy for the Borough of Eastleigh 30 June 2015
However, on 14th July 2016 Eastleigh Borough Council’s Cabinet resolved to use a new interim target of 630 dwellings per annum for the Borough, taking account of the latest evidence on housing need and findings from a recent appeal in respect of land at Bubb Lane. See paragraph 1.2 of Eastleigh Borough Council Five Year Housing Land Supply Position Statement
It is not known whether the Secretary of State for Housing can impose penalties on LAs for not meeting their five-year housing land supply, but failure to do so would risk numerous planning appeals that would be difficult to defend. However, if the number of homes constructed each year drop below a trip point New Homes Bonus payments are withheld.
For a comparative overview of the local plan process. See Housing Constraints and Supply Analysis
- What is the process for deciding where houses should be built in Eastleigh and how is the infrastructure paid for?
Answer: The Local Plan is the process and developers’ contributions the main source of infrastructure funding. However, this model was probably designed for low growth areas. It could be argued that when housing growth is projected above a certain rate, developers’ contributions cannot possibly meet the local infrastructure needs. Large-scale housing needs have been met in the past by “Garden Villages or Towns” where the infrastructure is established according to local needs and before housebuilding commences.
In addition, developers’ contributions by law have to be used on capital expenditure, which may be fine for the construction of new GP surgeries, but they cannot be used by the Clinical Commissioning Group to fund new GPs.
It has been estimated by the Conservative Chairman of PUSH that there is a £2bn transport infrastructure deficit in the Solent area, highlighted by the train journey times from Portsmouth to Southampton shown in the chart below;
Connectivity within the Solent and to London compared to other parts of the Country
|119 miles (Bristol Parkway = 116 miles)
|133 mins (Bristol Parkway = 127 mins)
|101-112 mins (Bristol Parkway = 89 mins)
|65-75 mins (requires a change)
- How many dwellings are there in Eastleigh Borough?
Answer: The 2011 Census recorded that there were 52,177 dwellings in the Borough (3,483 of them in Fair Oak and Horton Heath). Since then 1,670 more dwellings have been built in the Borough up to the end of last year.
See following documents;-
Population of Eastleigh was 125,852 in 2011 and is forecast to be 150,875 in 3036 Objectively-Assessed Housing Need Update Final Report Page 32
- Of the funds paid by developers’, is cash paid or “goods to the value of” and who determines the value?
Answer: It may possibly be both, but evidence that the money is spent on the items negotiated is almost certainly a requirement of the Town and Country Planning Act. See What are Planning Obligations?
- We are losing our green space, there is no investment in our children and no affordable housing for our children to be able to start and live their adult lives in this community. We discussed the houses in particular at Crowdhill and Boorley Green, with house prices at the lowest around £300,000. What percentage of Crowdhill housing are starter-homes and social-housing and what is the starting price?
Answer: 35% of the homes on Crowdhill Green are/will be social housing. Of that, about a third, 10% of the total, are starter homes. The sellers’ website says that up to 80% of the purchase price can be covered by the “Help to Buy” scheme. See Land west of Winchester Road and north of Hardings Lane, Fair Oak, Eastleigh, SO50 8GL Planning Application
- There is further planning being considered in what is known as plans B & C in the Borough’s local plan, affecting Stoke Park Woods, Upper Barn and further development of Crowd Hill Copse, without significant confirmed infrastructure that supports these plans they are clearly not viable. When are the options being considered and is the meeting open to the public?
Answer: This is the Emerging Local Plan. Eastleigh Borough Council is obliged to find space for 14,580 houses over the next twenty years and have already exhausted brownfield sites. This is still an emerging plan. Nothing is cast in stone. The reason for this approach is that it is the only plan that brings some relief from our traffic problems. The Chickenhall link is unlikely to happen and Highways England have vetoed a new link on to the M27 at the missing junction 6. If there is development in the only other possible place, south of the railway along Allington Lane, the extra traffic leaving that development will probably try to get onto Bishopstoke Road into Eastleigh or clog up existing exits to the M27. In contrast, the plan to develop north and East of Fair Oak brings a road linking the new development to the M3, which will reduce the additional pressures on local roads. The key to this is the viability of the new road. The current estimate is £40m, which is achievable as that is under £10,000 a house, but there are real difficulties in getting under the railway and across the Itchen valley.
The most recent part of the local plan process was agreed by “Noting the report” receiving approval from councillors on 20 July 2017 at Kings Community Church. The “Full Council” meeting was a meeting for councillors to ratify decisions made since the previous “Full Council” meeting and was held in public. See Council notes way forward for Emerging Local Plan