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Leicestershire Campaign to Protect Rural England

Leicestershire and the housing numbers game

Sunday, 13 September 2020 10:53

Leicestershire and the housing numbers game

Government changes to the way housing requirements are calculated will impact adversely on the Leicestershire countryside, says CPRE Leicestershire.

CPRE is very concerned about the proposals for revising the methodology for calculating local housing requirements put forward in ‘Changes to the Planning System’ which is currently the subject of a public consultation.


It is proposed that a new Standard Methodology, based on revisions to the formula, criteria, algorithm and methodology for calculating housing requirements, should replace the current Standard Methodology. It would also be based on the 2018 household and population data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) rather than the 2014 data used for the current Standard Methodology.

 
The outputs from the use of the new Standard Methodology cause us concern, particularly as the Government plan to make it compulsory for local planning authorities (LPAs) to follow the new Standard Methodology and meet a centrally determined target for provision of new housing in their area.


Equally, the way the Government’s arbitrary and politically determined national target of 300,000 houses a year overshadows all this is also a concern.


While the method for calculating the requirement is set out in the consultation document, Government did not crunch the numbers or indicate how different areas would be affected.


Leicester and Leicestershire
The consequences for Leicester and Leicestershire are explained in our report, ‘The New Standard Methodology for Calculating Housing Requirements: Implications for Leicester and Leicestershire’.  This is based on research specially commissioned by CPRE Leicestershire and is an attachment to this article

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This research revealed some quite dramatic changes in housing requirement figures under the new Standard Methodology calculations as compared the result from the existing Standard Methodology.


How do the figures work out for Leicester and Leicestershire?
First, there is an overall increase in the housing requirement across Leicester and Leicestershire.  Overall, there is a 55% increase in the requirement for Leicester / Leicestershire as whole but this needs qualifying.


Second, there is a dramatic shift in the requirement for housing out of the city of Leicester into the surrounding districts.  While there is a fall of 35% for Leicester, the county districts face a 104% increase.

  
Third, Blaby (+232%), North West Leicestershire (+221%), Harborough (125%), Hinckley and Bosworth (+96%) and Charnwood (48%) face particular pressures.  In reality, each will have to have to find sites for several hundreds of new homes.


The figures in table below are drawn from our research. They are annual figures for each council under the current and new Standard Methodology.

 

 

Council

Current Standard Methodology

(2014 data)

New Standard

Methodology

(2018 data)

No of homes pa difference SM/NSM

% +/-

SM/NSM

Blaby

  346

1148

+802

+232

Charnwood

1105

1636

+531

  +48

Harborough

  550

1238

+688

       +125

Hinckley and Bosworth

  452

  889

+437

  +96

Melton

  201

  205

   +4

    +2

N W Leicestershire

  359

1153

+794

+221

Oadby

  167

  215

  +48

  +28

Leicester

1734

1120

-614

  -35

Totals:

 

 

 

 

Leicester / Leicestershire (all)

4914

7604

+2690

 +55

Leicestershire (minus Leicester)

3180

6484

+3304

+104

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a) Figures for Current and New Standard Methodology and difference SM/NSM are annual figures.
(b) % figures rounded.
(c) Current Standard Methodology used 2014 household and population data, while the proposed new Standard Methodology is based on Office of National Statistics (ONS) 2018 household and population data.


Implications of larger housing numbers for Leicestershire and its residents
Clearly, the adoption of the new Standard Methodology will have important implications for the scale of future development that will be required in Leicester and Leicestershire as well as for where it could and should be located.  Equally, in making these decisions, Councils will have little choice but to meet their centrally determined targets.


Inevitably the increase in overall housing numbers means that the Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) will be under pressure to find yet more new sites for housing developments.

 

Together with the proposal to extend ‘Permission in Principle’ this could meant that large housing sites could be given certainty of planning permission without considering vital implications, such as transport and environmental matters.

Without the protections afforded by Green Belt and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANOBs) designations, large tracts of attractive countryside in Leicestershire will be vulnerable to development.  In particular, this increase in housing numbers, together with proposals in the Leicester and Leicester Strategic Growth Plan (SGP) for a development corridor, raises serious concerns for the future of the countryside east of Leicester.


In addition, pressure resulting from increased Government targets means that it is likely that more housing will be built on poorly located, car dependent sites in the countryside. Many local communities and their residents will be faced with the prospect of large-scale new development on their doorstep.


A consequence of all this is that urban regeneration of Leicester and other towns in the county would be undermined, while failing to deliver affordable housing or address climate change. So far from protecting the countryside and encouraging urban regeneration, these changes would encourage unsustainable and unaffordable housing that would not meet the real needs of the most vulnerable in the county.


Wider Consultation
The changes discussed here are part of a much wider process.  The Government is proposing ‘radical’ changes to the planning system and the way it operates. These proposals are set out in Government white paper, ‘Planning for the Future’, which is also currently the subject of a public consultation.  Proposals in this document also raise concerns for CPRE Leicestershire, CPRE nationally and for others more generally. 


Act Now
A copy of our report has been sent to Leicestershire and Leicester MPs and to leading County, City and district/borough Councillors with a request that they work to have the proposals reviewed.
You can act by responding to the Consultation by the deadline of 1st October and letting your MP and councillors know your views and concerns.

 

Downloads:

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