On Tuesday 20th February 2018 Waverley Borough Council resolved to adopt its emerging Local Plan Part 1, accepting the recommendations contained in the examining Inspector's report.
The plan and report provide a useful example of the approach an examining Inspector will take to issues of housing supply and how this might differ from a s.78 appeal.
The Inspector recommended a housing requirement of a minimum of 590dpa, which is above the objectively assessed need for the area (OAN) on the basis that the authority should meet a proportion of a neighbouring authority's (Woking's) unmet need.
Part 1 of the Local Plan was strategic in nature and did not itself aim to allocate a full range of sites to meet the housing requirement. Nevertheless, the Inspector was satisfied that the Council had identified a large number of suitable sites within its Land Availability Assessment (LAA), which could come forward within Part 2 of the Plan or in Neighbourhood Plans. When taken together with completions since the beginning of the plan period, extant planning permissions and a windfall allowance, this allowed the Inspector to conclude that "plan makes adequate provision for new housing and creates an adequate framework for the maintenance of a year housing land supply."
With regards to the issue of five year supply specifically, it is noticeable that:
• The Inspector considered it appropriate to apply a 5% buffer, despite a small number of Inspectors at s.78 appeals having come to the contrary view. As well as concluding that there had not been a "long-term record of persistent under-delivery", the Inspector emphasised the differences between s.78 appeals and examinations when coming to a judgment as to whether there was a "convincing case for bringing a further 20% forward from later in the plan period."
• The application of a 10% lapse rate on small sites was considered to be a "somewhat pessimistic approach".
• In the circumstances, the Inspector considered it appropriate to include within the supply a proportion of sites identified within the LAA as having a realistic prospect of coming forwards within five years.
The Local Plan is also of interest in noting the Inspector's approach and support for the spatial strategy advanced by the Council that proposed a new settlement at Dunsfold Aerodrome for the delivery of about 2,600 homes by 2032. The new settlement is supported by a specific and detailed design policy to ensure a high-quality design that has place-making at its centre.
A separate decision of the Secretary of State on a called-in planning application relating to Dunsfold Park is awaited.
An electronic version of the plan, notice of adoption, statement of adoption, the inspector's report and the evidence base can be accessed here.
Wayne Beglan and Robert Williams acted on behalf of Waverley Borough Council.