Following engagement with Havant Constituency residents and meetings in Westminster with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Minister of State for Housing, local MP Alan Mak MP has submitted his response to the Government’s consultation on proposed changes to the planning system. The consultation closed on the evening of Thursday 1 October 2020.
In his submission Alan Mak MP recognised that the Government must deliver on its December 2019 General Election manifesto commitment to deliver more homes across the country and that it’s right that everyone, especially young people and growing families, has an opportunity to own their own home, not just live with their parents or rent indefinitely. However, Alan also strongly emphasised that this must be achieved in a way that takes account of local factors and constraints, including across the Havant Constituency.
Alan praised Havant Borough Council (HBC) who describe themselves as a “pro-development local authority” and recognised the hard work they have put into drafting their new Local Plan, which sets out their plans for housing, development and regeneration plans locally. Alan has worked closely with the Council’s Planning Policy Manager as he drafted his own consultation response.
Alan said: “Young people, growing families and others across our constituency all deserve the opportunity to own their own home, and more housing is needed as demand grows but new local targets should take account of physical and environmental constraints. The first draft of the new standard method for calculating housing need is not appropriate for the Havant Constituency so I have submitted a robust but constructive response, and included ideas and suggestions for improvement.”
Alan believes that physical, geographical and environmental constraints in a local authority area must be taken into account in the new standard method for calculating housing need figures and play a key role in deciding (and lowering) housing need numbers.
In Westminster, Alan is an active founding member of a group of Conservative MPs that has a shared desire to reform and improve the first draft of the new standard method and shape the wider planning reforms.
You can read his submission by downloading it at the bottom of this page, but a summary of the key points that Alan made in his consultation response are:
- Retain the role of local councillors in the planning decision-making process.
- Ensure there is on-going protection for environmentally-sensitive areas.
- Recognise areas that have physical/geographical constraints such as Hayling Island.
- Maintain the duty to co-operate or introduce a similar concept so local councils can share housing need with neighbouring local authorities.
- Retain a cap on the housing need figure to prevent it from increasing too dramatically.
In addition to his consultation response, Alan has also sought to clarify the following points about the consultation and the first draft of the new standard method:
- The new standard method will be used to calculate theoretical housing need in an area (based on technical factors such as affordability and population growth), NOT the ultimate housing delivery number/the number of houses actually built in reality, which is decided when local councils have taken into account a variety of constraints and other factors.
- The projected new housing numbers that have been quoted by various pressure groups, lobbyists, planning consultancies and other organisations that you may have seen in the media are purely speculative. It would only be possible to determine the final housing need figure once (a) the consultation concludes and all the submissions have been read, (b) the new standard method is finalised, and (c) details are confirmed about how local authorities are able to mitigate against/reduce their housing need figure to take account of local factors. None of these three things has happened, and they will not be happening for some time.
- Under the Government’s proposed new planning system, local planning authorities/local councils such as Havant Borough Council will still have a key role to play in local planning and development issues. As well as being crucial in the plan-making stage, for land that the local council designates as “renewal” land there will still be a planning application which will be considered by councils on a case-by-case basis. Similarly, local councils will hold the pen on overseeing design codes and guidance, based on genuine community involvement to reflect local quality and preferences.
Whilst the consultation’s responses are reviewed – and pending the finalisation and introduction of any new system for calculating housing needs – local planning authorities such as Havant Borough Council will continue to play their key role in the planning process and influencing housing targets that reflect realistic delivery, including by continuing to grant or decline planning permissions.
Any queries relating to local planning and development issues, including HBC’s new Local Plan and related projects, can and should be still addressed to HBC, including via local HBC councillors.
Photo: Alan Mak MP meets local resident Jodie who has bought a new-build family home in the Havant Constituency. She and her family got on the housing ladder with support from the Government’s Help to Buy scheme.