The report presented to the committee sought an early steer from Members on housing policy matters for the new local plan and provided Members with an introduction to housing need options, housing supply and policy requirement.
The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management drew Members attention to section 3 of the report that detailed the responses to the issues and options consultation and outlined the three options for consideration.
Members’ attention was drawn to Section 6 of the report that raised a number of issues for debate and consideration.
Comments made by Non-Committee Members included:
· Devon faces significant problems with insufficient truly affordable housing.
· Growth in second homes is eroding our housing stock and according to an article in the Sidmouth Herald Sidmouth is the second home capital in East Devon.
· Holiday lets also affects the viability of villages and small town.
Points raised by Committee Members during discussion included:
· Our affordable housing need requirements should be led by our need for houses. Can we look at the needs first and proceed on that basis rather than pandering to developers. In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised that developers make their profit on delivering market housing in order to deliver 25% as affordable housing. It may not be viable to deliver a higher proportion and so if we are led by meeting affordable housing needs then the total number of homes needed to deliver to the affordable housing need would have to be substantially higher.
· The need for more social housing.
· The need to make sure the infrastructure is in place first.
· In response to paragraph 6.3 a) no b) no - it is hard to accept the premise of this question, if we want more affordable and social housing then there should not need to be a higher housing figure. c) yes – but need to prove the jobs are there first before the houses are built d) – yes further training would be gratefully received.
· Support for option one.
· In response to paragraph 6.3 a) yes - it is our duty to challenge because it impacts directly on the lives of residents b) yes – developers make promises that are not always kept c) yes – prove the jobs first d) yes – it is our duty to welcome further training.
· In two minds between option one and two and a suggestion to work into a buffer just in case sites were to stall so the council does not meet its five year land supply. In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised he was only seeking Members views on eliminating option 3 of going for a lower figure than the standard method at this stage. Further evidence would need to be produced and presented to Members to reach a sound conclusion on the other options but Members’ views were sought on the principal.
· In response to paragraph 6.3 a) no – choose battles that we can win b) yes – if there is evidence as suggested that proves higher housing numbers are necessary c) yes d) no – it is something for the officers to appraisal and advise the Members.
· In response to paragraph 6.3 a) yes – reluctantly I would accept the government’s standard method b) no – I do not want to accept a higher housing figure as it makes the council a hostage to fortune c) no – we will end up with more housing and not jobs d) yes – more training would be appreciated.
In response to the comments received to paragraph 6.3 the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management welcomed a resolution to dictate the way forward with regard to option 3. He took the consensus that Members were open minded about b) and c) and was happy to provide further training if enough Members were interested. He advised he would bring further reports to Committee in due course with evidence and firm recommendations.
1. That the need for robust evidence on housing need and supply to justify strategic policy on housing requirement provision to include in the local plan be endorsed in principle.
2. That the transparent and timely use of that evidence through the plan-making process to justify local plan policy on housing requirement provision be endorsed.
3. That the questions raised in paragraph 6.3 of the report were considered and commented on and the consideration to not challenge government standard methodology at this time to help to inform officers’ work in developing a housing strategy for the new local plan was agreed.