Housing in the Green Belt?

Suburban spreadThe national government has changed its policy in relation to providing new housing and planning law (for England only – the other parts of Britain have their own policies). This has meant that Elmbridge has had to reconsider its approach to housing development.

Why is Elmbridge in this position?
Since  Elmbridge adopted its core planning strategy in 2011, the national government has made significant changes to the way local governments have to plan for new housing through the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2012.  A number of decisions by planning inspectors and the High Court in 2014 have called into question plans that were adopted before the publication of the NPPF.

What are these significant changes that the national government has made?
The NPPF now requires all local governments to assess, and try to meet in full, the need
for new homes in their area including looking at the potential to accommodate them in the Green Belt.

Why does Elmbridge have to reconsider its approach?
Elmbridge’s core Strategy and evidence that supports it were produced before the NPPF and so are considered to be out of date. Specifically, the approach to housing development and the housing target are based on the assumption that the Green Belt
is ‘off limits’.

How will Elmbridge reconsider its approach?
The borough will have to: find out how many more homes are needed; identify where these new homes can and can’t go including looking at the Green Belt; work with other local authorities, particularly the boroughs bordering Elmbridge over the border in London, to identify and meet the need for new homes in our area.

What is happening to current work in progress?
Work on settlement investment and development plans is halted until work on the evidence review is completed.

What will be the benefit of Elmbridge reconsidering its approach to housing
development?
This work is vital to ensure that Elmbridge has a robust and defendable local plan, and one that is in accordance with the NPPF. Specifically it will: ensure that decisions on where housing goes are made locally and not by the national government; support us in working with other local governments to ensure they provide their fair share of new homes; send a clear message that we are looking seriously at options for meeting housing need; help us to defend planning applications for new development within the Green Belt ensuring that we get to choose where and when development happens; and, enable us to plan for the infrastructure needed to support new development.

What will happen if we don’t do this work?
If the borough doesn’t do this work it would face the following risks: other local governemnts and developers are likely to challenge our plans; future plans, such as settlement ID plans, are likely to be found unsound resulting in significant and unnecessary costs to the borough; developers will start to make applications for development within the Green Belt and these will become increasingly difficult to defend; and, without an up to date plan, the borough will lose the ability to choose where housing
goes and will not be able to plan for infrastructure.

Are all the boroughs in England going to be affected in this way, or is it just
Elmbridge?
Yes, those boroughs with plans adopted before the publication of the new national government policy in 2012 will need to reconsider their approach. This applies to
boroughs with and without green belt.

What will the work tell us?
Once the work is completed it will enable us to determine either: that the housing target in Elmbridge’s core strategy, evidence base and strategy for locating development are okay and provide an appropriate basis on which to continue preparing future plans, such as Settlement ID Plans; that the housing target in the core strategy, evidence base and strategy for locating development need reviewing and a new local plan needs to be prepared.

Does this mean that development will take place on the Green Belt?
No. The evidence base will determine whether or not we need to locate development
within the Green Belt. A Green Belt boundary review would be in accordance with the
NPPF, having regard to the intended permanence of the Green Belt in the long term, enduring beyond the plan period.  When looking at the potential to accommodate new development within the Green Belt we will need to ensure that it continues to meet its key aim – preventing the spread of the London conurbation.

How is Surrey involved in all this?  transport, infrastructure, education etc?
Once Elmbridge has an initial idea of how many homes can be accommodated we will need to speak to Surrey to identify what infrastructure will be required. If there are problems that cannot be resolved through the provision of additional infrastructure then
this may mean we need to reduce the amount of new housing we can deliver.

Why do we have to work with others to do this?
The NPPF requires us to identify and meet housing need across a wider area – called
our housing market area. We will need to identify our housing market area and work
with boroughs within it to undertake this work.

When will the new work/review start?
Work reviewing the evidence will start immediately. The borough will start by identifying the housing market area and work on identifying and meeting the need for new homes,
working with local government partners. Further information and a detailed timetable is
set out within Elmbridge’s local development scheme.

How long will the work/review take?
Elmbridge will have completed most of the evidence base by summer 2015.

How is Elmbridge going to keep the burghers in touch with progress?
Elmbridge will continue to keep its burghers up to date with progress at key stages though letters, emails and community meetings. Specifically, when the work is complete and the outcome.

Where can I find more information about the review?
On Elmbridge’s website or by contacting the planning policy team via email: planningpolicy@elmbridge.gov.uk

One thought on “Housing in the Green Belt?

  1. One only has to drive around Elmbridge to see the underused/scrubland on the edge of our Green Belt line to realise how arbitrarily these parcels of land historically occurred,
    Therefore I hope the planners will take a realistic view on this topic, when evaluating their new plan to meet the Governments important tasks.
    One plea to the planners in their evaluation, since we are now a car driven society, retention of a landscaping strip both sides of the road with retained trees is less offensive than infilling to the minimum depth of any new development to minimise incursion into the Green Belt. Most of the examples that we experience of this pleasurable experience, happened by accident of ownership. Now is the opportunity to maximise on this concept in the need to provide for housing in the South East if we are to compete with the World.

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