477 new households a year required on Wirral according to Office of National Statistics, not 803 new households a year as Wirral Council claims; who is right and does Wirral’s greenbelt need to change?
Last month I wrote a blog post querying whether the 803 new homes a year figure used by Wirral Council was correct.
Wirral Council’s ruling Labour Cabinet in July agreed to start a consultation on the Local Plan earlier this month. The Cabinet also agreed to use the 803 new homes a year figure with the conclusion being consulted on that this would require over the 15 year life of the Local Plan large areas of the Wirral that are currently in the greenbelt to be taken out of the greenbelt for the purposes of housing.
Yesterday (September 20th 2018) the Office of National Statistics published revised household projections for England and the associated statistical bulletin can also be read on the Office of National Statistics’ website.
The new household projections published by the Office of National Statistics for Wirral at tab 406 of the spreadsheet are for 2016 142,190 households and for 2026 146,456 households.
This leads to a predicted annual household growth per a year over that period as (146,456 households – 142,190 households) divided by ten = 4,266 households divided by ten = 426.6 households a year.
Multiplying this by the adjustment factor (1.12) to take account of affordability to give the minimum annual local housing need = 1.12 times by 426.6 households a year = 477.79 households a year.
If you read the Cabinet report (which is now based on out of date household projections), it means the current consultation on the Local Plan is based on out of date figures which makes a lot of the assumptions in the Cabinet report that the consultation is based on now incorrect.
For example, the Cabinet report states in 5.9 and 5.10 that housing completions over the previous three years have been at 63% of the target it uses of 803 a year (which works out at 506 completions a year). As this is 85% below the target of 803 it leads to additional provision of 20%.
However 506 homes being built a year is over and above the revised minimum annual local housing need of 478 a year, not 85% below it, so there hasn’t been any significant under delivery of housing and the additional provision of 20% is no longer needed.
Table 3 at 5.22 of that report estimates (now wrongly) a shortfall of 4,794 households (hence its recommendation to consult on redrawing the greenbelt boundaries) based on what can be built on brownfield sites.
However the requirement based on 477.79 households a year needed over the 15 year life of the plan instead of 803 households a year means that 4,878 fewer households are required over that 15 year period.
The additional provision of an extra 20% (or an additional 160 households a year) are also no longer needed.
In conclusion, based on the revised minimum annual local housing need it is clear that there is no need to build houses anywhere in Wirral Council’s existing greenbelt over the 15 year period the Local Plan covers.
Details of how to respond to Wirral Council’s consultation (which finishes on the 26th October 2018) can be found on its website.
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