Friday, 23 May 2014

12,000 new homes locally? Council launches major planning consultation

Forecast Methodology. Turley

The Lancaster district should make plans for an additional 12,000 new homes over the next 20 years to meet housing needs fuelled by an increasing population and a growing economy. This would represent a 20% increase in the number of local homes.

That’s the verdict of independent consultants Turley Associates who last year conducted a local housing requirements study on the district to replace regional targets recently abolished by the Government. Around the country all councils are now being urgently required to meet these newly calculated needs. .

Their report states as its premise:
"The authority of Lancaster includes approximately 61,950 properties of which all but approximately 4.3% are occupied.

"The assessment of need, however, has clearly identified that if Lancaster seeks to accommodate growth in its business base manifested in a growth in employment opportunities to the levels currently forecast by Experian then the level of housing required to accommodate a growing labour-force will need to be in the region of at least 560 per annum. Growth of this level would accommodate projected population growth pressures and represent an increase on average recent historic levels of net migration into the authority. 


"This level of growth also responds to important market signals including the scale of affordable housing need in the authority, which has been recalculated as approximately 578 affordable dwellings per annum over the next five years in order to address the current backlog of need and newly arising need. Assuming this backlog of need is met the overall requirement for affordable housing over the twenty year period is estimated as 5,000 affordable dwellings (250 per annum on average).

"On this basis the research recommends that an objective assessment of need for Lancaster represents the requirement to accommodate at least 560 houses per annum over the plan period (2011-31). This would represent an increase of approximately 11,100 new households in the authority over the plan period."

This is great news for construction companies and estate agents, but what’s the best approach to identifying where to place all these new homes and accompanying infrastructure? A further issue is how the council might manage to ensure that at least 50% of the properties proposed could be made affordable, as the report suggests is needed, and what that might entail. In practice developers have been tough negotiators of significant reductions in the target percentage of affordable properties in new build developments, and also in the quality and sustainability of the homes they construct.

Lancaster City is asking the public to help it to identify the best approach through an eight week consultation which will be held from June 2 to July 31.

Coun Janice Hanson, Lancaster City Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for Economic Regeneration and Planning, said:

The scale of the task we are faced with is not to be underestimated. Through the work we have done already we have found sufficient land to accommodate 7,000 new homes, but this still leaves a significant shortage of 5,000.  To fill this gap we need to ensure that we are taking the right approach and to do that we need the help of the public.  I would urge everyone to get involved by either attending one of the consultation events or filling in the online questionnaire.”

The consultation will ask people what they think of the suggested targets and of five potential approaches to identify sites to deliver them, which include:

  1. A Single Large Urban extension
  2. Reviewing the Green Belt
  3. Distributed to settlements throughout the district
  4. Significant expansion of two existing rural settlements
  5. Creation of a new settlement

A number of ‘drop in’ events will be held across the district for people to find out more about the options and to have their say on which they feel would be most appropriate to cope with all the newcomers, jobs and wealth we are expecting.

These will take place on the following dates and locations:

  • Tuesday 3 June  - Morecambe Arndale Centre – 10am to 3pm
  • Wednesday 4 June - Carnforth Tesco – 2pm to 7pm
  • Thursday 5 June  - Heysham Library – 2pm to 6pm
  • Tuesday 10 June  - Ellel Village Hall (Galgate) – 2pm to 7pm
  • Wednesday 11 June  - Barton Road Community Centre (Scotforth) – 2pm to 7pm
  • Thursday 12 June  - Dolphinholme Village Hall – 2pm to 7pm
  • Saturday 14 June  – St Nicholas Arcades – 10am to 3pm
  • Tuesday 17 June  - Torrisholme Methodist Church – 2pm to 6pm
  • Wednesday 18 June  - Bolton Le Sands Village Hall – 12.30pm to 4.30pm
  • Thursday 19 June  - The Centre (Halton) – 3.15pm to 6.45pm
  • Tuesday 24 June   Victoria Institute (Caton) – 2pm to 7pm
  • Wednesday 25 June – Nether Kellet Village Hall – 2pm to 6.30pm
  • Thursday 26 June - Hornby Institute – 2pm to 7pm
  • Friday 27 June - Fraser Hall (Cowan Bridge) – 2pm to 7pm

The results will be used to inform the next stage, which will be to consult on the most supported approach/approaches with more detailed proposals.  This may happen in early 2015, (subject to timescales and council approval) and will ultimately lead to the preparation of a Land Allocations Document.

More information on the consultation can be found at www.lancaster.gov.uk/planningpolicy.

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