what is the five year land supply?
Almost every sizeable planning application put forward nowadays, good, bad or indifferent, contains the words "this application should be allowed because of the absence of a five year land supply..."
So what is this all about?
The amount and location of housing for the district of South Cambridgeshire for the next 15-20 years is decided by something called the Local Plan. This was written by the District Council after consultation in 2014, and it proposed building new settlements at Northstowe, Cambourne expansion, Bourne and Waterbeach, and preserving the Green Belt around Cambridge and around our villages. So far so good - tho' clearly if you oppose these new settlements, not so good.
The Planning Inspector reviewing the plan has had to listen to very fierce arguments from developers who would prefer to build on the green belt than at these new settlements. This is because - in my view - their motivation is that it is easier and it is more profitable to build on Cambridge's fringes than break new ground at Northstowe. This is why the inspector asked the district council to do some more work to back up its proposals for these new settlements because she may well have taken the view that there might be a legal challenge to her conclusions on the Local Plan had she not done this.
But until the Local Plan is adopted, the council cannot point to a supply of land and say to developers - "there you are, go and build there." It means that the parish councils have to work hard to put forward strong arguments to oppose developments, and why I have been to the planning committee to oppose some. That is not to say thal all developments in and around our villages are a bad thing - villages need to welcome new infusions of vitality - but they need to grow organically.
I am pushing - as are all district councillors, really - to get this Plan in place, but it will not be until later this year. It is an unintended consequence of Cambridge's economic success, because these new developments in and around South Cambs villages sell very well..