Lib Dems urge Government to reconsider North Somerset’s housing targets
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Liberal Democrat councillors have joined calls for the Government to reconsider the housing targets set for the area.
Following a resolution agreed by North Somerset Council’s executive, the council’s director of development and environment has written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government asking for a change to policy.
Government-set targets for housebuilding are based on a standard formula which uses household projections from 2014, even though newer figures from 2016 and 2018 are available.
Updated household projections for 2020 are due to be published soon.
The 2014 model means North Somerset needs to find land to build thousands of extra homes in the coming years.
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Over the 20-year local plan period currently being developed, North Somerset would need to build 27,380 homes under the 2014 model preferred by the Government.
However, a change to more up-to-date evidence from 2018 would result in a lower target of 22,340 homes, more than 5,000 fewer homes.
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Cllr Mike Bell, deputy leader of the council, said: “There is a clear solution which addresses the housing challenge but with a much more realistic chance of success, setting the baseline for calculating our local housing need at the 2018 forecast levels of growth. This would provide North Somerset with a target related to the evidence. It is not a soft option – the figures are still well above the current average delivery rate, and higher than the core strategy which, in any event, the council has not been able to achieve. Even the lower 2018 model will require new sites, higher densities and possible consideration of greenbelt releases, all of which will be highly challenging.”
The first phase of the council’s consultation on the local plan challenges launched on July 22.
Cllr Patrick Keating added: “The current standard methodology outputs are simply impossible to deliver, and the council will be set up to fail. If we want to protect our fantastic natural environment, protect the character of our rural villages and deliver homes in the right places and in the right way, a key start is to get the housing target right. The government needs to change its approach and ensure that housing targets meet the reality of local need.”