Residents to have say on draft Local Plan as Leader pledges to challenge government target
26th May 2021
Residents in Three Rivers will have their say from next month on the potential sites allocated for future homes in a new draft Local Plan after the proposals for consultation were backed at Annual Council on Tuesday 25 May.
All councils in England are legally required by the government to plan for future population growth and demand for housing with Three Rivers given a new target of more than 600 new homes a year up to 2037/38. The previous target was 180 new homes a year.
But in an amendment to the recommendations from the council’s Policy & Resources Committee, it was agreed without opposition by Council that the need for more housing should not be at the cost of harming existing communities and reducing the quality of life and wellbeing of existing residents.
Two major sites and a string of reserve sites that had been proposed for consultation by council officers were removed from the consultation on the basis they would cause “undue harm”, according to Cllr Matthew Bedford, Chairman of the Local Plan Sub-Committee. This could mean that the council will fail to meet the government targets.
The council also agreed that the Leader of Three Rivers District Council will again seek government agreement for a lower number of new homes in the district.
Cllr Sarah Nelmes, Leader of Three Rivers District Council, said: “We need to plan ahead for significant new development in the district. Many of our families are worried about the affordability and supply of homes for their children and future generations, and the pressing need for affordable housing, schooling, and community facilities in the district.
“But it is not possible to provide the government’s target for additional homes without causing disproportionate harm to existing communities as a result of building on much-needed accessible open space.
“We will continue to work with local residents’ groups, parish councils and others to press the government for a reduction in the government’s target for the number of homes to be built in Three Rivers and for additional powers to get the right mix and type of new homes to better meet the needs of local people. We do not want just executive five bed homes.”
Once a Local Plan is approved by the government, it will be used to assess all new development. It will cover sustainability, a key priority in line with the council’s Climate Emergency strategy. Applications for all new development will need to show that they produce at least 20% less carbon dioxide emissions than the current building regulations require.
The Local Plan considers the need for new homes and jobs alongside associated infrastructure such as shops, community facilities, transport, open space, sport and recreation, health and education facilities.
The proposed allocated sites put forward for consultation were based on feedback from residents, businesses, developers, statutory bodies and local groups. The council will review the draft Local Plan following this consultation (known as regulation 18) and may seek to remove more sites or add new ones before presenting a final plan to a government inspector for approval.
Cllr Bedford added: “I urge residents to make their views known and we will be sending a leaflet to every home to inform residents of the consultation. I do hope they will support our approach of removing some key sites proposed by developers and our approach to the government for a lower housing number so we can protect as much of the Green Belt as possible.”
Further details of the previous consultations are available at: https://www.threerivers.gov.uk/egcl-page/new-local-plan
For commonly asked questions and answers see: https://www.threerivers.gov.uk/egcl-page/local-plan-faq
The consultation period is due to start on 11 June 2021 and run for a period of six weeks. The final draft Local Plan is then due to be published later this year before being submitted to the government for approval in 2022. Once approved or amended it is expected to be in place by summer 2023.