Posted by: John Brace | 20th February 2019

After consultation government proposes to use higher 803 Local Plan figure for new households on the Wirral but insists it isn’t a “target”

After consultation government proposes to use higher 803 Local Plan figure for new households on the Wirral but insists it isn’t a “target”


House building on the Wirral 2018

House building on the Wirral 2018

Last year, the Office of National Statistics published new figures which changed the household projections for the Wirral Council’s Local Plan from 803 a year to 477 a year. The difference being around 226 households a year.

The government then ran a consultation on “changes to planning practice guidance and policy clarifications, which will involve amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework” impacting England from Friday 26th October 2018 to Friday 7th December 2018.

Following that consultation the government response to the consultation was published yesterday (contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0 and the source is Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Of relevance to Wirral Council’s Local Plan are pages 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15.

The government proposes to change (at some future unspecified date) from using the 2016-based projections back to the 2014-based projections. However it is pointed out on page 13 that this is not a target where it states, “Local housing need does not represent a mandatory target – it is simply a starting point for planning, and local authorities may either choose to plan in excess of this or to conclude that they are not able to meet all housing need within their boundaries, for example due to constraints such as protected designations and Green Belt, or whether that need is better met elsewhere. This means there is flexibility for local authorities to manage movements in local housing need locally.”

Ultimately it will mean that if Wirral Council wants to use a lower figure than 803 new households a year to say for example protect the greenbelt it would have to justify this in one of various ways:

a) have the difference made up by greater housebuilding in neighbouring authorities such as Liverpool, Cheshire West and Chester etc (although this seems very unlikely),

b) explain that there are sites with protected designations on the Wirral that houses can’t be built on,

c) explain that due to greenbelt constraints that using a 803 a year figure can’t be achieved due to lack of land supply and/or

d) increase the density of housing on brownfield sites (for example building multi-storey properties).

At the moment Wirral Council’s policy is 478 new households a year, although it remains to be seen what this is by the time their draft Local Plan is presented for examination at some future date.

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  1. In normal circumstances, Government’s approach would be reasonable. But we are not in a normal circumstance. WMBC is incapable of negotiating and planning for the future as shown by its inability to publish a Local Plan.