Waverley Core Strategy Inspectors Letter – Unlikely to be found sound, but back to Predict and Provide

Here

On the DTC it is a classic case of failure to agree (soundness) rather than failure to constructively cooperate (legality).

Waverly had argued that a 2009 SHMA was out of date and only proposed around half the level of housing.  To which the inspector said under para. 47 of the NPPF do a new one!

As the inspector said

an evidence base that solely refers to demographic and other changes within Waverley Borough, without consideration of the market area as a whole, is unlikely to be sufficient. For these reasons, I can give little weight to the housing needs figure that you quoted at the hearing.

On migration

realistic assumptions in respect of future migration patterns would be required. Given the evidence that is already before me about the relative lack of containment within the West Surrey HMA, any scenario based upon zero net-migration (as included in your Population Topic Paper and your suggested modifications [January 2013]8) would need to be robustly justified….

Taking these factors together, it is therefore unlikely that I could reach a finding of soundness on the basis of the housing needs assessment evidence that is before me. A new SHMA is required. However, this would require your Council to work with other authorities – given that the HMA crosses administrative boundaries

In conclusion

During the hearing, I gained the strong impression that your Council is unwilling, as a matter of principle, to depart from the 230 dpa housing total that is set out in the CS…. If my impression is correct, then I must advise that continued reliance on a figure that is derived from the South East Plan (SEP) process is unlikely to result in a finding of soundness.

Lets be clear about this,the SEP was not predict and provide, it had a net redistribution away from West Surrey, North Hampshire and Berkshire towards the Thames Gateway and other growth areas.  So the ironic result of the abolition of regional planning is the doubling of housing targets for a number of authorities, back to predict and provide.

And the abolition of the SEP does not protect the Green Belt, As Pickles Predicted.

I note that your Council’s justification for not undertaking a Green Belt review derives in part from its view that housing sites outside the Green Belt were available to meet the policy CS2 housing target. However, given that this target was itself explicitly influenced by the presence of constraints including the Green Belt, this appears to be a circular argument. While the SEP identified no requirement for a Green Belt review in Waverley Borough, the relevant SEP policies have been revoked. If the Council wishes to maintain its opposition to a Green Belt review, then such a stance would need to be justified in the context of the Framework’s policies, as discussed above. However, if a Green Belt review were to be considered then this has the potential to amount to a fundamental change to the Plan’s strategy that could not be accommodated within the present examination.