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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 08 September, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

Welsh Government Consultation:
Draft Technical Advice Note (TAN) 1 Joint Housing Land Availability Studies

 

Purpose of the Report

1.      The purpose of the report is to advise Cabinet of the Welsh Government’s consultation on Technical Advice Note (TAN) 1 Joint Housing Land Availability Studies and to seek approval of the report as the Council’s formal response to the consultation.

Recommendations

1.         That subject to consideration by Cabinet, this report is approved as the Council’s formal response to the Welsh Government consultation on Technical Advice Note (TAN) 1 Joint Housing Land Availability Studies.

2.         That the report be referred to Planning Committee and Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee for information.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To obtain Cabinet's approval of the response prepared to the consultation on Technical Advice Note (TAN) 1 Joint Housing Land Availability Studies.

2.         To advise Planning Committee and the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee of the recent public consultation.

Background

2.      Planning Policy Wales (PPW) sets the context for sustainable land use planning policy within which Local Authorities' statutory Local Development Plans (LDPs) are prepared and development control decisions on individual planning applications and appeals are made. PPW is supplemented by a suite of topic based Technical Advice Notes (TANs) and procedural guidance is contained within circulars and policy clarification letters.

 

3.         It is important that planning policy continues to evolve to accommodate changing circumstances. Accordingly, the Welsh Government (WG) continually monitors PPW and TANs in relation to their objectives for Wales and when necessary, publishes updated national planning guidance.

Relevant Issues and Options

4.         The main proposals which are subject to consultation are summarised below, and the proposed response to the consultation is at Appendix A.

5.         Joint Housing Land Availability Studies (JHLAS) are the principal mechanism for monitoring the supply of housing land through the planning system. JHLAS demonstrate whether local planning authorities have a deliverable five-year supply of land for housing as required by Welsh Government policy (Planning Policy Wales, paragraph 9.2.3).  Failure to have a five-year housing land supply is an important material consideration which is taken into account by Planning Inspectors when determining planning appeals for residential schemes.

6.         The Welsh Government consider that having up-to-date Local Development Plans (LDPs) in place is critical for ensuring that the homes needed are delivered.  The planning system, through the LDP process, must provide the land that is needed to allow for new home building.  Appropriate monitoring of housing land supply is a very important element of ensuring that this is achieved.

7.         The Welsh Government has therefore indicated that the overriding aims of the review are firstly to align the JHLAS and LDP monitoring processes, and secondly incentivise the preparation and adoption of LDPs.

8.         On this first point, I am generally supportive of the proposals set out in the Welsh Government consultation document which are aimed at enhancing certain aspects of the current JHLAS, which are summarised below:

·        The requirement for JHLA studies to be published within 6 months rather than the current 12 months.

·        Planning applications approved subject to the signing of a section 106 agreement will now be included in the supply - where this remains unsigned for more than a year the site should be removed from the five year supply.

·        Additional site categories to assist in providing a better understanding of a local planning authority’s housing land supply.

·        Where a local planning authority has a less than five year supply, this would be addressed in the Annual Monitoring Review rather than the JHLAS.

·        Where sites are disputed a JHLAS Study Group meeting must be held to try and resolve these matters.

 

9.         Appendix A provides the Council’s responses to the above proposed changes to the JHLAS process.  However, it is fundamental that I draw Members attention to the Welsh Governments’ following proposed change to the JHLAS process:

Land supply needs to be soundly based on meeting identified housing requirements. Therefore it is proposed that only local planning authorities with an adopted LDP (or an adopted Unitary Development Plan that is still within the plan period) will be able to undertake a JHLAS calculation and thus be able to demonstrate that they have a five-year housing land supply.  In line with this, it is also proposed that the residual methodology based on an adopted LDP (or UDP) will be the only methodology allowed for calculating housing land supply.

 

10.      Presently, Councils with time expired UDPs are required to calculate their housing land supply using the annual average completions from the previous 10 year completions.  However, under this new proposal the Vale of Glamorgan Council would have no mechanism available for it to determine the housing land supply, and there would be no requirement to produce a JHLAS.

11.      On this proposed change, officers have raised a number of serious concerns as it will have direct implications for the Vale of Glamorgan Council, and for other Local Authorities which have a time-expired UDP and are progressing with their LDP. 

12.      The Council’s submission questions the rationale behind the Welsh Government assumptions that having LDP coverage across Wales will guarantee a healthy supply of land as there are other market factors, such as the availability of mortgage lending and the phasing of sites by house builders that will affect the classification of sites within the JHLAS.  The rationale that this change would “incentivise†LPAs to progress their LDPs to adoption quicker is therefore questioned.  Additionally, the Council’s submission highlights the potential additional pressures this will have on LPAs as a result of increased speculative planning applications, the impact on the principle of a plan led system, and in the absence of evidence of a housing land supply that it shall remove the ability of Council’s and Councillors to make informed decisions when considering housing proposals in the future - leading to increased number of planning application appeals.

13.      For these reasons, the Council’s submission strongly recommends that the Welsh Government allow LPAs who have reached the Deposit stage of LDP preparation to maintain the ability to calculate its housing land supply against the housing requirement of its Deposit LDP (i.e. use of the residual method).

14.      Whilst in the future this would result in the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s present land supply of 7.3 years to fall below the required 5 year supply, it would ensure against a “policy vacuum†in the interim period leading up to the adoption of the LDP, thereby allowing informed decisions to be made in respect of how new housing proposals would contribute to the housing land position and support the Deposit LDP.  This would also assist the Council to meet the proposed requirement to demonstrate a 5 year housing supply at the time of LDP adoption.

15.      The mains points of the Council’s proposed submission are summarised below:

·        Removing the ability of LPAs without an adopted UDP/LDP to evidence a 5 year housing supply will seriously undermine the principles of sustainable development inherent within national planning policy.  Moreover while it is good practice to incentivise LDP preparation, Welsh Government will be aware of the timetable for plan preparation which is often elongated by factors outside of a Council’s control such as judicial review and the significance of public opinion.

·        It is not necessarily the case that an adopted LDP ensures the provision of the required 5 year housing land supply. Of the 14 LPAs which have an adopted LDP, 11 presently do not have a 5 year housing land supply, and in the case of both Caerphilly and Merthyr Tydfil Councils neither have achieved a 5 year supply since adopting their LDPs in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

·        The proposal would increase speculative and potentially undesirable development proposals, placing unnecessary additional pressure on LPAs, at a time when resources are already being stretched - potentially redirecting resources away from LDP work, leading to delays in their progression.

·        The proposal is likely to lead to an increase in appeals and more worryingly legal challenges to decisions from local communities and developers.

·        The proposal could potentially undermine emerging LDPs as sites other than those identified within Deposit LDPs will inevitably come forward speculatively.  This was the experience of the Vale of Glamorgan during 2012/13 when the Council’s JHLAS showed a less than 5 year housing land supply.

·        Councillors have to make brave and informed decisions to approve housing schemes which are not in an adopted but time expired UDP in order to continue to ensure a 5 years supply is maintained.  In the Vale of Glamorgan, such decisions have been properly made by Councillors who clearly understand the reasoning behind the land supply argument.  If this proposal were to be implemented there would be no perceived benefit or incentive to approve controversial housing developments as this would not improve a Councils Housing land supply figures.  It is possible that the planning system and more importantly the delivery of housing land could be delayed and the appeals system overwhelmed with such applications, which will be to no one’s benefit.

·        The prospect of the “No plan, No housing Supply†situation could actually hinder the LDP process, slow the delivery of housing land and undermine the ability for LPAs to appropriately and sustainably manage development and the delivery of essential infrastructure.

·        That it is the current LDP process that requires a complete and timely overhaul - presently the process is considered to be unnecessarily technical and bureaucratic which from experience disenfranchises the public; and the number of statutory consultation stages are considered cumbrous, time consuming and resource intense, and arguably the key reason of delays in LDP coverage within Wales.  This is especially the case in areas of high land values and development pressures such as the Vale of Glamorgan.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

16.      Whilst there is no resource implications imposed at this stage.  However, should the Welsh Government implement the proposal to remove the ability of the Council to evidence its housing land supply, this could result in increased requirement for resources as a result of increase planning appeals.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

17.      The proposed changes to the JHLAS process will have implications for LPAs with time expired development plans when considering planning applications for new housing development. In such cases, the proposed changes will remove the ability of LPAs to calculate their housing land supply which is likely to lead to an increase in speculative planning applications.  Due to the weight attached to having a deficient housing land supply in planning decisions this may lead to the approval of otherwise potentially undesirable developments. Therefore, the impact on local sustainability will need to be carefully considered.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

18.      The JHLAS is a material consideration when considering planning applications for new residential developments.  The proposal to remove the ability of LPAs with time expired development plans to calculate a housing land supply is likely to lead to an increase in development proposals which may not be identified in the Deposit LDP. In the absence of evidence of housing land supply the proposed changes will affect the ability of the Councils and Councillors to make informed decisions when considering housing proposals in the future.  This could lead to an increase in planning application appeals and legal challenges to decisions from local communities and developers.

Crime and Disorder Implications

19.      None as a result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

20.      None as a result of this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

21.      The Council's Corporate Plan Outcome for Housing is for “Vale of Glamorgan residents have access to affordable, good quality, suitable housing and housing advice and supportâ€.  The proposed draft TAN 1 aims to support planning authorities in the delivery of housing; however the Council has raised a number of objections to the proposed changes which could undermine the corporate objective.

Policy Framework and Budget

22.      This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

23.      No ward Member consultation has been undertaken as the report has implications for the Vale of Glamorgan as a whole rather than specific wards.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

24.      Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

Planning Policy Wales 7th Edition (July 2014)

 

Draft Technical Advice Note (TAN) 1 - Joint Housing Land Availability Studies

 

Vale of Glamorgan Joint Housing Land Availability Study - 2014

Contact Officer

Andrew Wallace – Tel: 01446 704670

Officers Consulted

Legal – Committee Reports

Principal Account

Marcus Goldsworthy - Operational Manager Development Control

 

Committee Reports

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas - Director of Development Services

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