Sunday, 6 December 2015

Green Party set to Challenge Council's Plans for New Housing

Photo: Lancaster City Council
Does Turley's report on the Lancaster district's housing requirements – suggesting the area needs 13,000 - 14000 new homes between 2011 and 2031 - provide a compelling argument or do we need a truly independent review of its findings?

This will be the main theme of a public meeting, hosted by the Green Party, to be held in Lancaster Town Hall on Tuesday 8th December at 7.00pm, and comes ahead of their challenge to the findings at the next full Council meeting on 16th December.

Published in October, Turley's Strategic Housing Market Assessment report (PDF link)
updated the objective assessment of need for housing in Lancaster district, by considering the implications of the 2012-based sub-national household projections and the conclusions of the 2014 Review of the Employment Land Position for Lancaster District. Among other findings, the report suggests suggests a need for 553 dwellings per annum over the plan period from 2013 to 2031.

However, the report also suggest that scale would not support likely job growth in the district, and would only generate limited growth in Lancaster’s labour force based on prudent assumptions around commuting, economic activity and unemployment.

"Green Party councillors have been analysing the data and the assumptions which lie behind Turley's recommendation that the city council plan new homes," said Coun Tim Hamilton-Cox. "Whether it's the job-creation forecasts, the private house price and rentals evidence, or the employment rates assumed, the cumulative effect is: we just don't believe that the recommendation is based on a reasonable weighing of the evidence.

"We have to plan for growth, but just how much?”

“The amount of greenfield land being proposed for housing is unprecedented," feels Chair of the meeting, County Councillor Gina Dowding, "and has far-reaching consequences for distinct communities across the district, and for the environment.

"We owe it to our residents to be absolutely sure that planning for house-building on this scale is justified.”

“Green councillors are putting a motion to full council on 16th December to seek approval for an external review of Turley's report," Coun Caroline Jackson, who will also be speaking at the meeting, says.

"We favour a university-based specialist in planning, bearing in mind that Turley's principal business activity is securing planning permissions for developers.

"Other councils have sought third-party reviews of their housing requirement recommendations and we think that it's essential so that the council makes policy on the best thinking and evidence available.

"We want people to come along to the meeting and see what they think of the arguments. We really want the review to get cross-party support.”

• You can view all Lancaster City Council's current housing-related documents here on the City Council web site

Strategic Housing Market Assessment October 2015 (Turley Associates Independent Housing Requirements Study) - PDF Link

Lancaster Green Party

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