Prior to the general election of 2010 the Regional Spatial Strategy housing target was described as ‘bonkers’ by conservative candidate (George Eustice to be precise ). The new government gleefully announced the end of Regional Spatial Strategies – local authorities and by implication local communities would decide the housing target for their area.
A seemingly sensible policy seeing that the RSS figures had always been highly suspect – the ‘evidence’ based on pseudo-technical assumptions and misconceptions.
Now we find – courtesy of the paper presented to the Environment, Heritage and Planning Portfolio Advisory Committee (EHPPAC), that the RSS target is used to determine whether a plan is sound.
Typically, other Plans that have been submitted with a target lower than their demographic projection or Regional Spatial Strategy target, have been rejected by the Planning Inspectorate before the examination or have failed.
And what was the RSS target? 68,200.
So what we have is:
5,000 [Stable natural population and net migration at zero]
29,000 [Allows for continued in-migration and backlog of housing need]
38,000 [suggestion of Planning Advisory Panel]
42,250 [Current Local Plan]
47,500 [proposed new Local Plan target]
68,200 [RSS target]
We contend that the first two of these reflect the actual evidence on the ground rather than unsubstantiated assumptions and flawed projections.
But lets face it, the process of fixing housing targets is not really about evidence, it’s all about bumping up housing numbers because the major parties think it looks good and there are groups out there – not just developers – who have a vested interest in building houses.
Sustainability? Climate change? whatever happened there?