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Housing loophole ‘closed’ says MP
DEVELOPERS will find it more difficult to build “unwanted” homes thanks to new Government guidance.
As part of the National Planning Policy Framework, all planning authorities must maintain a supply of deliverable houses to meet identified need for the next five years.
But some developers have won planning approval for new housing at public inquiries because of the way inspectors have interpreted local councils’ supply.
Until now, homes that had been granted planning approval but where work had not yet started were not included.
That could mean developers could build new homes even though authorities had enough up-and-coming homes in the pipeline to meet their targets.
Banbury MP Tony Baldry said he and councillors on Cherwell District Council had become so concerned over the number of “opportunistic” applications being proposed for the area he sought clarification from Planning Minister Greg Clark.
Mr Clark’s reply states: “The policy is clear that unimplemented planning permissions count towards the five-year supply.”
Planning policy now also states the only way it can be disregarded is if a council is shown to have deliberately approved applications that would in practice not be financially viable to build.
Mr Baldry says this means existing applications, such as plans for 700 homes at Heyford Park, are included in Cherwell District Council ’s five-year housing plan.
He has now written to the district council’s chief executive Sue Smith to make the position clear.
In his letter, the MP said: “Developers have been encouraged to make such opportunist planning applications by certain decisions of the Planning Inspectorate who have failed to take into account, when considering whether Cherwell has an adequate five-year housing supply, those sites on which Cherwell has already granted planning permission.
“It strikes me that the minister’s response could not be clearer. The policy is clear that unimplemented planning permissions count towards the five-year supply.
“I think it is going to be very difficult to see how, on the basis of the tests put forward, the Planning Inspectorate could conclude that Cherwell doesn’t have an adequate five-year housing supply.”