Cllr Phil Davies: “it’s our hope that we won’t have to ideally develop any part of the greenbelt”
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Yesterday evening at a public meeting of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee I asked the question below of Cllr Phil Davies (Leader of Wirral Council). I include Cllr Phil Davies’ answer below my question or you can watch him answer my question in the video above.
The formula for calculating the minimum annual local housing need on which the current Local Plan consultation is based is published here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/728247/How_is_a_minimum_annual_local_housing_need_figure_calculated_using_the_standard_method.pdf .
The formula states “Taking the most recent household projections”.
On 23rd January 2017 responsibility for publishing the household projections moved from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to the Office of National Statistics, as you can read for yourself in the grey box on this page about the household projections (which is also hyperlinked from the formula) here https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/household-projections.
Therefore the household projection figures recently published by the Office of National Statistics are the most recent household projections and therefore the ones that should be used for the Local Plan.
Could you therefore please answer:-
a) after the publication of the new household projection figures recently by the ONS why the 6 week Local Plan consultation on the old figures wasn’t abandoned,
b) why there is a report in the Wirral Globe today of Cllr Phil Davies writing to the Secretary of State for permission (which appears not to be required as the formula refers to the most recent figures) to use the new ONS figures,
c) due to the substantial drop in the household projection figures when the review of policies (that’s a legal requirement stemming from the change in household projection figures) which would be likely to be carried out
d) whether the review referred to in c) will result in a further 6 week consultation on the Local Plan using the most recent ONS figures?
Cllr Phil Davies said, “Well I know we’re going to give you a formal written answer, but the gist of it is as you say John that the ONS have published revised figures, and you do have to get the agreement of the government to use the new figures so we have written to get that permission and we’re waiting for that response, I hope we can.
We do need to do, the consultation won’t be affected because it’s a, it’s a legal part of the requirements as part of the Local Plan and particularly now the numbers have been reduced, it actually gives elected Members more choice because hopefully it’s our hope that we won’t have to ideally develop any part of the greenbelt.
If the figure had gone up, we would have had to have done a new consultation because we would have to identify additional greenbelt land, but because the number’s come down that’s not necessary, so it won’t require a new consultation and I think just a final thing to say is you know it’s obviously two things have been driving this one is the headline figure and it’s great news that’s come down.
There are rumours that the government will add houses on top of that because the new ONS figures don’t get you to the 300,000 that the government want to build but we await a response from the Secretary of State and the other thing obviously that we will now also have to do is even greater priority given to hopefully being able to deliver our new housing targets through brownfield building on brownfield sites and we are still awaiting a response from a number of key landholders about this, most noticeably Peel Holdings to make sure we have got the evidence to back up their figure of 6,450 houses on Wirral Waters that they say they’re going to develop.
But that has to be, all this has to be evidence based because it has to be able to satisfy a government inspector, a local planning inspector. So the consultation process will go on and the aim is still to bring a report to Cabinet in December with recommendations. So that’s the gist of the reply you’ll get in writing.”
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