Im becoming more and more worried by Local plans which meet objective housing need, but which are still being found unsound. I’ve been meaning to write about this for sometime but until recently it was only a theoretical possibility, recently we have had both Eastleigh and Uttlesford fall into this category.
The beauty of OAN is in theory wholly objective independent body could calculate it. Indeed we would have gained I think 4 of the last 10 years of plan making if this had been the case. The trouble is the NPPF adds a host of subjective add ons without definition of scale etc. These being ‘market signals’, the affordable ‘boost’ and employment balance.
How long is a piece of string, you cant combine the objectivity fo OAN with vague concepts like ‘market signals’. You have the ridiculous sight of the Uttlesford inspector making a figure up of 10% to reflect these. ‘Boost’ in Uttlesford you would have to triple housing numbers to meet need in full, this should be an option not a requirement. The one difficult issue is employment balance. To my mind it can easily be incorporated in OAN if you maintain realistic assumptions about maintenance of levels of non out commuting in the light of economic development. So when we finally revise the NPPF lets make the formula
Need= OAN and not
Need = OAN + a number the inspector makes up.