Councils reject ‘half cooked’ algorithm for planning new homes

New housing. Picture: PXHere

New housing. Picture: PXHere - Credit: Archant

A ‘ludicrous’ algorithm for predicting housing needs, that would put hundreds of extra new homes in East Devon, is being strongly resisted by local authority planners.

Mike Allen

Mike Allen - Credit: Archant

The Government is consulting councils on changing the method used for calculating the amount of housing each district should provide each year.

In East Devon, the number of new homes would rise by 76 per cent, from 918 to 1,614.

The district’s strategic planning committee discussed the proposals at their meeting last week (September 16).

The service lead for planning strategy and development Ed Freeman said: “The increase, by any standards, can only be seen as a staggeringly high increase on top of what was a high level anyway.

Cranbrook Cllr Kevin Blakey (chairman). Ref mhc 8886-25-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Cranbrook Cllr Kevin Blakey (chairman). Ref mhc 8886-25-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

“It must be seriously questioned whether the number of houses for East Devon, and surrounding areas, even if credible land could be allocated for their development, will actually be built.

“It must be seriously questioned whether there would be sufficient numbers of people wishing to buy or rent a property in East Devon and surrounding areas to sustain the level of growth the figures imply.”

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Cllr Mike Allen said that being asked to increase by the numbers in this way was ludicrous

He said: “There is something fundamentally wrong with the algorithm, and it shows no relevance whatsoever to local democracy and reality on the ground.”

Eleanor Rylance

Eleanor Rylance - Credit: Eleanor Rylance

Cllr Ian Thomas described the algorithm as ‘half cooked’ and said: “Whipping numbers out of the air is not acceptable.”

Cllr Kevin Blakey said that as developers will not be keen to develop properties that they cannot sell very quickly, this could not possibly work, while Cllr Eleanor Rylance said ‘if we don’t resist this, we will cover the West End in housing with no transport infrastructure’.

Teignbridge council, which would see its new housing requirement double under the proposed method of calculation, is also going to oppose it.

The portfolio holder for planning, Cllr Gary Taylor, said: “One of the most contentious issues is the suggestion that housing numbers will be based on a nationally set formula where more homes have to be built annually in areas where open market housing is often not affordable to local residents.”