Cabinet considers housing requirement for district

Uttlesford District Council's Cabinet has considered a report that sets out the draft housing numbers for the district over the next two decades.

The council is currently working on a new draft plan which will shape where new homes and businesses can be built and what infrastructure is needed to support development.

Identifying the housing requirement is an important stage in this process - it is the number of homes that need to be planned for over the plan period and helps inform the assessment of potential sites.

The Local Plan Leadership Group, which is leading the plan-making process, has recommended a housing requirement of 706 homes a year - or a supply of up to 16,944 homes up to 2040. This includes a buffer of between 15% and 20% so that the plan can flexibly react to changing circumstances. About 4,000 homes are already in the planning system, which means the council is likely to need to identify around 11,600 homes to meet the potential housing requirement in the plan period.

The housing requirement is based on a standard government calculation, and also considers comments received during the earlier public consultation exercise as well as the experiences of other local authorities.

Cllr Bagnall, Chair of the Local Plan Leadership Group, said: "It is critical at this stage that the housing figure has a robust methodology and a buffer for flexibility in the event approved sites don't come through the build process.

"The figure needs to be backed up with the evidence, and will be reviewed throughout the process, otherwise there is a risk the plan will not be found sound later on.

"Cabinet discussed the report and whether the calculation imposed by the government was using the appropriate factors, and the response from the government was that the formula would not change at this time."

The leadership group is playing a key role in developing the new local plan for Uttlesford and is providing clear direction to enable officers to carry out the technical work. This started with an innovative six-month consultation, led by an independent community stakeholder forum, and allowed the public to influence the plan before a single line was written. This was then followed with the development and approval of a vision and objectives which sets the framework for the plan preparation work.

The next step in the plan-making process will be the publication of the sites that were put forward by landowners and promoters in the 'Call for Sites'. This is expected later this month. The sites put forward will be assessed as to their suitability taking into account all applicable considerations and constraints. The call for sites exercise does not represent an allocation of sites, and no decisions have yet been taken.

Everyone with an interest in the local plan is encouraged to sign up for regular information and updates by subscribing to the council's e-newsletter service, via www.uttlesford.gov.uk/local-plan-news.

13 July 2021

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