Dorset Council have published a much anticipated report setting out West Dorset and Weymouth’s housing land supply position.
The report shows an uplift in the number of housing completions across the area in 2018/19, with 925 dwellings built out. This is the highest figure since the adoption of the plan in 2011, indicating that progress is being made. As a result of the uplift in completions, Dorset Council were able to reduce its buffer to 5%, down from 20%, under guidance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.
The report explains that ‘The annual housing target of 775 dwellings per annum would equate to a delivery of 6,200 dwellings over the eight year period since the start of the Local Plan period (2011). Actual delivery from the beginning of the plan period has been 4,880 additional dwellings. It is clear therefore that the delivery of housing has fallen behind the target rate in the Local Plan.’
However when it comes to future supply, the imposition of a more stringent deliverability tests through the Framework led to the erosion of some of the sites previously counted. The report goes on to conclude that ‘For the period 2019 to 2024, the councils do not have sufficient supply to meet the five-year supply requirement as required by national policy. The councils can only demonstrate a supply of deliverable sites equivalent to 4.83 years’ … … ‘It shows a slight worsening of the situation from the previous year’ … but describes the shortfall as ‘marginal’ owing to ‘the councils’ proactive management of delivery on sites.’
Brett Spiller, Director at Chapman Lily Planning remarked ‘The acceleration in completions in 2018/19 is welcome, but the tightening definition of what constitutes a deliverable site has exposed fragility in future supply. Despite initial speculation that the area might have caught up, the area is still unable to demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply. This means that policies designed to restrict the supply of housing are considered out of date and a presumption in favour of a sustainable development is engaged. This is generally good news for anyone with land on the edge of a town or larger village, however there are important exceptions to this, Careful investigation is required before embarking on a speculative planning application and I would urge anyone contemplating this to seek professional advice from an RTPI accredited planner’.
Brett added ‘In our experience West Dorset and Weymouth have embraced the challenge and adopted an honest and pro-active approach to trying to boost the supply of housing through day to day development management. This in stark contrast to other areas which seem to remain in a state of denial. I hope West Dorset and Weymouth will continue to build upon the improvements shown in 2018/19 and that the new local plan makes adequate provision for future growth’.
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