Council agrees way forward on Local Plan
25th October 2022
Three Rivers District Council has agreed an alternative way forward on its Local Plan that covers housing, other developments and planning policies until 2038 – and could result in fewer houses being built than set out previously.
At a full council meeting on Tuesday (18 October) all councillors supported a motion proposed by Deputy Leader and Planning Lead Member, Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, and seconded by Council Leader Cllr Sarah Nelmes. It was agreed to draw up an alternative plan if the government does not change its housing policies, which currently require the council’s Local Plan to meet its housing need as calculated by the government.
The motion called on the government to deliver on the promise made by the now former Prime Minister Liz Truss in July, when she was a candidate to be Conservative Party leader, to abolish the "top-down Whitehall- inspired Stalinist housing targets". At its meeting on Tuesday the council supported a delay in agreeing its Local Plan and to push back against the government housing figures allocated to Three Rivers of 12,700 new homes by 2036. Most of these would need to be in the Green Belt which makes up 76% of Three Rivers.
The motion moved by Cllr Giles-Medhurst called on the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to tell the Planning Inspectorate, which has to agree the council's
Local Plan, that the housing figures for Three Rivers should be based on up-to-date local evidence, rather than data from2014.
Cllr Giles-Medhurst said that the council will now draw up an alternative plan for a lower level of housing based not on the government’s figures, but on locally calculated housing needs using up-to-date statistics. This alternative will be presented alongside any other plan the government requires.
Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst said: "I am delighted that the council has agreed this approach and councillors support our continued opposition to unduly high targets and our decision to delay the Local Plan whilst we argue for lower housing numbers. Everyone knows the centrally imposed housing figure is just plain wrong as it takes no account of local circumstances. If we pushed ahead with the Local Plan we would have been forced to commit to the far too high figure of 12,700 to get a plan approved and stuck with unacceptable green belt development.
"I am determined that we will have a Local Plan that allows for some new development, fully supporting local needs and providing the homes and infrastructure that we need in the areas we need it. It is great that the council is united on this."