THE question over whether housing developments that have been approved but not yet built count towards Cherwell’s housing supply has been answered by the Minister for Decentralisation and Planning.
Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry wrote to fellow MP Greg Clark in the Government’s department for Communities and Local Government following an increase in opportunist planning applications for large housing developments in and around Banbury.
Developers have submitted applications for major developments around Cherwell, stressing a shortfall in the district’s housing supply.
However many of the controversial applications have been refused by Cherwell district councillors, who argue the housing supply will be met when work begins at sites which have already been approved, such as at Bankside in Banbury. In a bid to end the debate, Sir Tony wrote to Mr Clark asking for clarification on whether approved, yet undeveloped housing sites, do count towards the council’s five-year housing supply.
In his response Mr Clark referred to the National Planning Policy Framework and wrote: “The policy is clear that implemented planning permissions count towards the five-year supply. The footnote does require consideration to be given to whether such permissions can be expected to be built. This is necessary because it would otherwise be possible for councils to meet their housing requirement by approving applications for land that is never, likely, in practice, to be financially viable to build on. So viability does have a role to play.
“The footnote makes clear that all sites with planning permission should be considered deliverable “unless there is clear evidence that schemes will not be implemented within five years”. So the onus of proof is to show clearly that they will not be implemented if they are not to be included.”
Sir Tony forwarded the response to Cherwell District Council with a letter stating: “I think the only reasonable inference that can be made from this is that Cherwell has an adequate five-year housing supply, unless it is possible for developers to demonstrate to planning inspectors that the planning permissions already granted by Cherwell were granted deliberately to thwart housing development in the district and to prevent building elsewhere.”