At last - a five year land supply comes to the aid of our villages
I’m pleased that from today it will be harder for developers to put in speculative bids to build houses where they are not wanted in South Cambridgeshire. But this respite will be brief if there is any trimming of the housing plans that the council is waiting for the government inspector to approve.
Tinkering with the housing plan, known as the Local Plan, would mean that South Cambridgeshire villages would once again be at the mercy of speculative developers. Put simply, if the Lib Dem administration which takes over on Wednesday at South Cambs Council takes out some of the locations for houses, then the district will again fall below its housing targets, and it will again be open season for unwanted developments in our villages.
For the last four years, since 2014, South Cambs District Council has battled to prove that it has enough land for new houses, against what the Government sets as a housing target. If a council can’t prove that it has enough land allocated for housing, known as a “five-year land supply” then it makes it easier for developers to put in speculative bids for housing, and get them pushed through on appeal, even though the council’s planning committee has turned these bids down.
Now South Cambs has declared it does meet Government targets for new housing land, following an updated assessment last week.
Let me say that despite repeated asks by local councillors, including me, of government ministers and planning officials to quicken the pace, the Local Plan has taken four years and is now due to be released by the planning inspector in June.
Since June 2014 the Council had not been able to demonstrate it had enough land supply, which has meant that housing applications could not be assessed against local planning policies that control the provision of housing, such as village frameworks, and planning decisions have instead been tilted towards delivery of more housing.