Spelthorne Council has announced that it intends to revise the housing needs figure for its new Local Plan, following heavy criticism of the Government's formula for calculating the number of new homes needed in local authorities.
Spelthorne Council wrote to the Secretary of State for Homes, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, in November 2019 and met with senior officials to express deep concerns over the very high number of homes needed for the Local Plan and the impact on communities and Green Belt.
The decision to use a lower figure has come from a recent Government consultation that proposes a revised method for calculating housing need that would see Spelthorne's need figure reduced from 606 homes per year to 489. Whilst there are no guarantees that this new methodology will be adopted once the Government has concluded the consultation, it represents the most likely figure at this stage and enables further work to continue on the Local Plan rather than waiting months for a decision to be made.
The lower figure means that many of the sites proposed to be allocated for housing will no longer be needed and the Council will be considering which to take out. Following its own consultation on 'Preferred Options' for the Local Plan that took place between November 2019 and January 2020, it is clear that residents have significant concerns over the amount of housing needed , the need for infrastructure to support this growth, and the development of Green Belt sites. By using the lower figure, it is hoped that we can deliver the best Local Plan for residents that still meets our pressing need for homes, affordable housing, employment sites and the infrastructure to support them. There will be a further public consultation on the Local Plan before it is submitted for examination by an independent inspector.
Deputy Leader of the Council and Chair of the Local Plan Task Group, Cllr Jim McIlroy, said: "This is great news for Spelthorne. We promised residents we will not only listen to their views on the Local Plan but also act upon their feedback. The Task Group working on this is made up of councillors from every single ward in the Borough and shows true cross-party engagement. We have been pushing for our housing number to come down and we finally have a clear signal from the Government that we won't be facing the massive scale of development that would change the face of Spelthorne forever."