Government rejects local authorities’ population growth expectations
Councils forced to rewrite local development plans
The Welsh housing system faces years of delays and legal wrangling because councils are refusing to sign up to government house building targets.
The Welsh Government stepped up the pressure on councils to back down this week by accusing them of a ‘widespread’ misunderstanding of the likely population growth they will face in the next decade. It sets local house building targets based on the number of extra households expected to move into an area, which each of Wales’ 22 councils are meant to use to form their local development plans by 2013. The previous Welsh administration introduced the current system.
At least four councils have already submitted plans for substantially fewer homes than the Welsh Government says is necessary to meet need. They all face rejection if their evidence justifying the cut is not accepted. Five more already have an adopted plan, while the remaining councils are
in the process of producing them.
Last week, Wrexham Council was the first to withdraw its plan after it was told its decision to build 8,000 homes by 2021 would fall short of the 11,700 the government projected it needs. The Welsh Government cited a lack of evidence to support the council’s plans.
This rejection came despite the plan having ‘widespread community support’, Lawrence Isted, head of community well-being and development at Wrexham Council, said.
Brecon Beacons Council, which plans to build 291 homes, said it had ‘concerns’ about how the government estimate of 540 new households was reached and said the number of homes would not be acceptable on ‘planning and sustainability grounds’. Ceredigon Council has used its own research because it said government figures are skewed by student numbers. It plans to build 6,000 homes by 2022 instead of the recommended 7,000.
Conwy Council, which will submit its plan later in the year, wants to lower its house building targets from 6,800 to 6,300.
Gareth Barton, associate director of planning consultancy Turley Associates, said councils were failing to provide enough evidence for their plans.
Rewriting the plans could take up to three years as councils engage in further consultation with residents, causing potential delays on some sites.
Cardiff Council has faced delays after government inspectors found its LDP was over-reliant on brownfield land in October 2011.
In numbers: Wales
expected population of Wales in 2035
people on Welsh housing waiting lists