Local Plan Special Measures Basildon Reduces Housing Numbers in 1,920 page Full Council Report

Three of the sixnaughty step authorities are in South Essex, Wirral doesn’t matter as it isnt cooperating at all, York and Thanet don’t matter as they have finally put put local plans or submission.  That just leaves Brentwood, Castle Point and Basildon all in South Essex

Basildon Full Council 18th October 

A nearly 2,000 page agenda all of it local plan.

Report is from page 31

Following a change of leadership of the Council in May 2018, an extraordinary meeting of the Council on the 7 June 2018 agreed a motion (Minute 2018:292) which rescinded the decision taken on the 22 March 2018. It instructed the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure (SPI) Committee to review seven specified components of the Local Plan and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), as listed below, and having done so provide a Revised Publication Local Plan and CIL for Council to reconsider. These components
were:
i. Reconsider the merits of including 300 homes in H18: South West Billericay,
in addition to those recommended in the Higher Level Development
Framework 2017;
ii. Reconsider the merits of H10, in addition to H11 in Noak Bridge;
iii. Reconsider the options for meeting the Borough’s Gypsy, Traveller and
Travelling Showpeople 53 pitches and 3 plots need, including the ‘hub
model’;
iv. Reconsider the options for the Hovefields and Honiley Neighbourhood Area;
v. Reconsider the options for housing development in Ramsden Bellhouse;
vi. Reconsiders the options for Bowers Gifford and North Benfleet
Neighbourhood Area;
vii. Reconsider the implications of its recommendations for i-vi on the potential soundness and legal compliance of the Plan and take steps to engage with other public bodies, as required and necessary, to discharge the Duty to Cooperate; and
viii. Reconsider the options for the Community Infrastructure Levy Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule.

And the response

At the meeting of the SPI Committee on the 3 October 2018, a Revised Publication Local Plan (Committee Version) was reported. This set out the amendments made to the Local Plan as a consequence of the policy steers provided by the SPI Committee, up to that date.
As part of that meeting, a number of deferred and outstanding matters were also reported to the SPI Committee. … in considering the Revised Publication Local Plan,agreed to recommend it to Council (Minute No. 2018:TBC), with the following additional amendments:
 A larger employment land allocation to the North of Burnt Mills Road, in order to secure this strategic employment location in the long term and establish Basildon as an area open to business investment;
 An amendment to the site boundary of the housing allocation to the West of Basildon required in order to ensure the site remains justified and deliverable, and assists with the re-provision of pitches from the Gardiners Lane South site;
The inclusion of South Wickford as a broad location for housing growth in the longer term, aligned with any capacity improvements to the A127;
 A revised location for the relocation of Billericay Cricket Club; and
 Amendments to affordable housing policy reflecting revised, more favourable viability assessment of the amended proposals for East Basildon.

Lets be clear despite the political motivation some of the deallocations were sensible, such as one site near Billericy were a developer had oddly claimed it wasn’t ancient woodland because it didn’t appear on one old map (know for its inaccuracies) the ‘get out’ to make the plan stack up is a site which should be better called Dollymans (Dollymans farm) well located for proposed roads and housing South west of Wickford (straddling the Rochford Border) and where you could put a new station on the London Anglia Branch of the London Tilbury and Southend i.e.

The problem is this is a strategic long term site as its delivery would require a comprehensive solution to long-term improvements to Fairglen A13/A127 Southend Arterial, also two other possible  strategic growth locations in published or emerging local plans would be within 1-2km of this, one of the busiest junctions in South Essex and England, and due to get far busier with the Lower Thames Crossing opening.  All of the these locations require a design led and infrastructure led approach to unlocking good (but very difficult) potential sites around Fairglen.  They cant simply be dropped into a local plan (as a similar adjoining site in Castepoint – was) and hope for the best as it will be undeliverable and beyond the plan period.

Furthermore

MHCLG has made it clear that it still expects the constituent (south Essex Joint Spatial Plan) authorities to continue work on their own Local Plans – particularly the three authorities sent Intervention Letters by the Secretary of State in November 2017. Furthermore, as the work on the JSP is not sufficiently advanced to indicate how Basildon Borough’s unmet need can be accommodated, it was concluded as a result of the Planning Inspector’s Advisory Visit in January 2018 that it was necessary to formally ask the other authorities in the Housing Market Area (HMA) (Castle Point, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock) whether they could assist Basildon Borough in meeting its unmet need in the interim.
Formal letters were then sent to the HMA authorities by the Chief Executive on 14
September 2018. Responses were received from Castle Point Borough Council, Rochford District Council, Southend on Sea Borough Council and Thurrock Council

All saying they will be having difficultly meeting their own need, Castel Point receiving other need!, all bar potentially Thurrock will have to write to each other saying the same, can you accommodate some of our need.

It says

the case that for any reduction in need based on using the current standard method is expected to be short-lived, and Council is therefore advised to note the new figures, but not seek any amendment to the Revised Publication Local Plan in respect of them.

It says

In the Borough, particular regard has been had to preventing
the coalescence of the Basildon urban area with Thundersley to the east and West Horndon to the west, as this would create a continuous urban conurbation stretching along the A127 around 20 miles from West Horndon in Brentwood/Thurrock to Shoeburyness in Southend.

Which is odd as in terms of Thundersley this is exactly what is proposed when you add Dollymans and Lychgate Farm (the adjoining Site in Castle Point) the gap will be narrowed, as it would to the west when Brentwood and Thurrock Proposed strategic sites to the West at Dunton Hill and West Hordon (the famous Consortium Development Limited  Tillingham Hall site from the 1980s) are added.  So it expects adjoining areas to take their growth but rule out their main sites to potentially do so?

The Local Plan therefore makes land provision for at least 17,791 homes. When housing supply is compared against the housing need of between 19,491 and 19,771, the scale of unmet need is identified to be around 10% of the housing requirement. This is similar to the level of unmet need based on the standard method approach. While the need is lower at 17,232, the supply is also comparably lower at 15,531 as it does not include housing completions between 2014 and 2018.

as it says

The standard method does not use the base date of the data (2014), but rather the current year from which the calculation is to be taken. This means that if a Local Plan was prepared today for Basildon Borough it would have a requirement for 17,232 homes over the period from 2018 to 2034 (16 years) 

This is a bizarre artifact of the SOAN method, although based on 2016 based population and household projections, it has no 2016 base but the year in which they are published (now 2019).  This means all planning permissions and completions in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 count for nothing.  This will mean howls of outrage from local cllrs when they realise this, ‘WTF have we been doing approving all of these planning permission for the last two years only for the clock to be reset and for them not to count’.  Yet another aspect of the SOAN not being thought through.

But the report goes on

Once completions between 2014 and 2018 have been taken into account to contribute towards supply, the remaining housing need for the plan period, including shortfall in provision for the period 2014-2018, as set out in this Local Plan, is broadly aligned to the figure calculated by the standard method.

So the solution is a different base year for supply than demand?  I’m sure a few consultancy objectors would have a thing or two to say about that, or are they saying you should carry forward a backlog from 2014-2018 based on supply 2014-2018  minus demand under SHMA 2014-2018, its all complex and very confusing.

South Essex authorities are in the position of needing hang together or hang separately, work together or nothing works, as almost every strategic site either crosses a LPA boundary or can only work with infrastructure which does.  Basildon’s problems cannot be met within Basildon etc. etc.

Put brutally have we come forward one inch since when in 1985 Shostack and Lock wrote ‘ put brutally Structure plans in the South East of England have created a housing shortage; ‘  and then planned Tillingham Hall (with a Letchworth’s or Ebbsleets of housing by final phase (15,000 units), with a new prime minister two years before overulling her secretary of state on development in the Green Belt.)  So what are we due to get 34 years later – Tillingham Hall II (by the same firm now working for the local authorities), and the Joint Spatial Plan needs around 8 or 9 Letchworths over and above existing housing commitments to 2050.   Imagine 8-9 times the sheer rage and outcry next year from the Green Belt Lobby and the Essex Anto development lobby in full unison.   A loss of institutional memory surely here.

Don’t get me wrong its a doable site, and a necessary one, but its a site that looks good on a map but when you get on the ground and look at the rectilinear reclaimed fen landscape with dramatic view of ‘big skys’ and the terminal morraine left when the Thames was formed at the end of the Last Ice age dumping 80m of till at the Langdon Hills and Jury/Thorndon Hills; you realise than only a ‘landscape led’ solution will work, and one that threads in new roads and the potential ‘Kent-Essex’ rail link (linking to Crossrail 1 via the proposed LTC tunnels) in an integrated solution, rather than the big blobs tyle planning (fuzzy felt planning as objectors have called it) in North Essex where the main fear  of objectors is not having a clue from such plans how to visualise the future, fearing concreting over the countryside and everything about a piece of countryside they love.  An approach which puts only housing first and expects urban design and  infrastructure to catch up a year or two later wont work as it would be politically killed off by protests and the fragile politics of councils in the west of South Essex.

So in a future piece, building on my hugely viewed piece on the LTC rail concepts (brought up to date) ill sketch out how it might be done in a way that might even satisfy  some of the Essex Groups that frequent this blog.

What goes around comes around – revival of Tillingham Hall in some form now inevitable (the scheme refused by Ridley in 1987 -from the Urban Design Quarterly 1988)

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