House Building – Local Plan

I sit on the Local Plan committee and last Wednesday evening we had a briefing from council officers on this subject. They have certainly done a lot of work on this over several years and seem personally committed to delivering a plan for 12,000 houses to be built in Tendring over the net fifteen years. They even went so far as to explain that building houses on farmland is an environmentally friendly activity!

In summary; the rules of the game that we are being invited to play by, are that central government tells Tendring District Council how many houses to build and TDC decides where they are to be built. So much for the Conservative Party’s commitment to “Localism”. With a Conservative government in Westminster and a Conservative administration in Tendring , we have a fight on our hands.

I have a lot of learning to do, starting with where the “objectively assessed housing need” comes from. The rules stipulate that there must be an assessment done in line with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). There is no suggestion that the 12,000 homes are required for the residents of Tendring. Indeed, the officers at the briefing were clear that the birth/death balance in Tendring is forecast to be essentially flat over the next fifteen years. The population increase is all coming from people moving into the district, almost entirely from outer London. These homes are not for you, they are for London overspill.

There are essentially two options; either to generate a plan in line with the NPPF, or . . . Not! If we do not have a plan then developers can apply to build anywhere and Tendring would not receive the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) that is payable by a developer when a Local Plan is in place. I have asked the council officers how CIL is calculated and what it has amounted to over recent years and await their reply. If we do have a plan in place then developers can only apply to build in those areas designated for that purpose, and provided they meet the requirements of the Local Plan they have to be accepted.

Those in favour of having a local plan say that builders will only apply to build house they can sell and that the rate of applications in the past has been around half of the 800 houses per year figure (12,000 houses over 15 years) that a Local Plan will require. So, these wizards say – “Let’s play the game and have a plan for 12,000 houses, it’s never going to happen in practice”. With 350 homes about to start near Gorse Lane industrial Estate and Persimmon applying to build 900 houses on Jaywick lane, I’m not so sure.

One thing you can be sure of is where they will mostly be built. The Conservative administration in Tendring has packed the Local Plan committee with a cabal of “Country Club” members, representing wards in Frinton and the rural fringe of the district. They have a 10-4 majority on this committee. Do not expect new homes to have a view of Frinton Golf Club!

Members of the Local Plan committee can be found here http://democracy.tendringdc.gov.uk/akstendring/users/public/admin/main.pl?op=ListCommitteeDetails&keyid=26 You can rely on the UKIP members and Joy Broderick from Holland Residents Group to oppose these houses. As for the rest, they need persuading.

I will let you know how this progresses.

I am away over the next month. Please bear with me.

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