Skip to navigation

Letter: Housing target hocus pocus: act now on consultation

Letter published by West Sussex County Times 29 November 2018-11-29


Government’s hocus pocus with housing targets: act now on consultation

Starting 24 January 2019, in compliance with Government diktat, local authorities are to calculate their ‘minimum annual housing need’ by means of the Government’s new formula-based ‘Standard Method’, the main purpose of which is to compel council’s to allocate land to accommodate at least 300,000 new houses per year.

This formula-based method uses projections for numbers of households in each local authority, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which, according to the Government’s National Planning Guidance, “are the most robust estimates of future household growth”.

That was the Government’s view until the ONS published (20 Sep 18) its latest household-growth forecast to 2041, which show “a slower growth than previously projected” by the previous ONS forecast, published in 2016.

For many Councils use of the latest ONS figures in place of those published in 2016, would result in lower targets and land allocations – and would not therefore achieve the Government’s requirement for 300,000 new houses per year.

The Government has therefore decided that the formula must be altered in order to achieve the 300,000 and that in the meantime councils should use the ONS’s previous and now out-of-date higher-growth forecast, published 2016, to determine their ‘minimum annual local housing need’. Ramifications for communities, local plans and the countryside are huge.

Note that the 300,000 minimum is an arbitrary number and takes no account of growing economic uncertainties and a reducing demand for new houses. Crest Nicholson, in its ‘Pre Close Trading Update’, issued 17 October 2018, advises that it “is pausing its growth ambitions to align with current market conditions, slowing down build rates and reducing land expenditure”.

‘Changes to planning policy and guidance including the standard method for assessing local housing need’ (Ministry of Housing, Local Government and Communities) is now the subject of a public consultation, which ends 11.45 pm on 7 December.

This crucial consultation has not been publicised; consequently the public, including many parish councils, are unaware. Please act now and respond to this consultation by objecting to the Government’s hocus pocus with housing targets.

Yours faithfully,

Dr R F Smith

Trustee CPRE Sussex

join us

Back to top