Email sent on behalf of Councillor Peter Strachan, Cabinet Member for Planning & Regeneration
I am writing to provide you with an important planning update that will impact, in the short term, on how we make decisions in the North and Central areas.
Many of you will know that the council has a duty to maintain a five year supply of deliverable housing sites. However, a recent assessment of our five year supply position has shown that for the first time since the adoption of the VALP, the position in the North and Central planning areas has dipped below five years (now at 4.5 years).
There are many reasons for this but mainly as a result of a slowdown in development, linked to rising construction costs as well as delays in bringing forward some of the major allocated sites of the VALP. The consequence of this is that in accordance with national policy, the council will have to apply what is known as the ‘tilted balance’ when determining some speculative applications and it may be necessary either to approve some of those applications, where they may otherwise have been refused or, we may find some of those sites are approved on appeal for the same reasons.
This council is not the only one affected by these circumstances and it is precisely because of this situation happening across the country that the Government are planning to introduce changes to national policy which will remove the need to demonstrate a five year supply of housing where, as is the case in the VALP area, the council has an up-to- date Local Plan.
There is currently no timetable for when the Government will introduce the changes to national policy although we understand the changes should be made later this year or early next year.
In the meantime, the council must apply the existing national policy and this will be reflected in decisions over the coming weeks and months.
Peter Strachan, Cabinet Member for Planning & Regeneration