Following the motion in the Local Plan Committee, TDC offciers arranged for the PBA consultants who carried out the Objectively Assessed Housing Needs (OAHN) study to meet with interested parties. Sadly, all they did was to present the report that they had previously submitted. I phoned the TDC Planning Officer (Cath Bicknell) and she confirmed that she had no further actions planned to discharge the Local Plan committee motion. So I wrote the note below to her, copied to the Chairman of the Local Plan Committee (Neil Stock [Con], also Leader of the Council):
I understood from our phone conversation on Monday morning that you feel no other actions are necessary to deliver against the motion at the last local plan meeting to seek a lower dpa figure from PBA. The meeting with the PBA consultant last Thursday was a repetition of the contents of the last PBA report. As such it fulfils neither the letter nor the spirit of the motion “to go back to the authors of the above-mentioned study to investigate the matters raised by the Committee in respect of figures and assumptions in the study and to explore the possibility of revising its conclusions with a view to setting lower housing growth figures for Tendring”.
The PBA consultant did highlight some of the many opportunities to achieve a lower DPA target figure. These include:
- Define a different HMA:- Possibly Colchester and Tendring. Different consultants?
- Population forecasts:- I believe that we were told that the revised approach to the UPC left a flat trend between the censuses. So, investigate the data/maths in detail to understand how a flat 2001 – 2011 trend becomes a 280dpa figure on a 5 year trend and 479dpa on a 10 year trend.
- Demographics :- At some point in the process, possibly prior to getting to 479dpa, PBA have taken into account; increased migration from a larger UK population, smaller households, longer lives. We should see the data/maths for these. Increased UK population is down to international immigration, which does not come to Tendring, and there is no data to support a decrease in household size during the plan period. Longer lives is [presumably] correct, but offset by people working longer. We should see the data/maths.
- Housing restriction:- The consultant was very keen that there was evidence a restriction in housing supply, in the face of the house price facts and ignoring affordability data. Indeed contradicting their own report. Failing that he said we would pick up a 10% or 20% uplift because there had been a gap when we did not have an approved plan in place. The rationale for this stance on uplift requires further investigation.
- EPOA jobs adjustment:- We need to see the data/maths on this. It may very well be that there is a need for more people to maintain the working age population, but this does not all have to be done in dpa. A fall in unemployment would be welcome.
No doubt other opportunities to deliver a lower dpa from the OAHN study will emerge.
Please could I ask that Tendring DC now engage in a material way to achieve a lower dpa figure for the Local Plan. I recognise that a great deal of the details will be undertaken by TDC officers. However, I, and I am sure others, are more than willing to engage in this process and wish TDC officers to be fully transparent about any meetings, questions and answers.
If you feel that a meeting of some (or all?) of those copied on this email with TDC planning officers would help, then I am sure that can be arranged. Would you be able to advise as to whether a motion at the next Local Plan Committee (or full council?) would help to move this forward?
I have constructive responses from both. Let’s see how this turns out.