New government figures have raised yet more questions about the level of housing need in Uttlesford. The council’s forecast could be overstated by as much as 3,000 houses.
The following press release was issued 24/09/18 by StopNUtown Action Group
Uttlesford Local Plan: Will The Council Opt For Fewer Houses?
Based on the Office for National Statistics’ new household projections 11,598 homes are needed in Uttlesford over the period of the local plan to 2033. This compares with the council’s current proposal to build a much higher 14,677 houses.
An immediate effect would be to remove the need for the proposed new town in the north of the district at Great Chesterford, says action group StopNUtown. It would also relieve the pressure to build among some of the other villages.
“The last minute addition to the Local Plan of a new town on the Cambridgeshire border was always suspect and poorly reasoned, and these latest figures make it even less credible,” says Richard Pavitt, representing StopNUtown Action Group.
“We have consistently asked why the council and its leader Howard Rolfe are so determined to build more houses than appear to be justified. We never get a plausible answer, so whom is the council serving? It certainly isn’t the needs of the district and its residents.”
The council is scheduled to meet Oct 9 to consider changes to the draft local plan arising from issues with its West of Braintree scheme. Campaigners say this would be a good time to also review the housing target and ensure the local plan has realistic ambitions before it is submitted for inspection.
“There is a considerable risk that the flawed and flimsy evidence for a new town at Great Chesterford could result in the whole Local Plan being thrown out by the Inspector,” continues Richard Pavitt.
“The council is playing a high stakes game that could rebound. It would make more sense to follow the figures and remove North Uttlesford Garden Community to give the plan greater certainty.”
HOW THE FIGURES WERE CALCULATED
Michael Young, a chartered accountant and long-time critic of UDC’s housing projections, kindly provides this information. He has frequently argued that housing need stated in the draft Local Plan is overstated due to errors made by the council.
How the figure of 11,598 was calculated based on new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS):
The following formulation is that used by Peter Brett Associates (PBA), one of the UK’s leading firms of development consultants and used by Cambridge City/South Cambs and the North Essex Garden Communities.
Step 1 – take the latest ONS figures for the increase in households in Uttlesford between 2001 and 2033. This is 10,070.
Step 2 – convert households to dwellings by multiplying by 4.7%.
Step 3 – add a 10% margin, what the Govt calls “market signals.” The size of this uplift is a matter of judgment based on economic factors such as employment growth, affordability and the need for social housing. At the previous inspection of the Uttlesford Local Plan the inspector recommended 10% and this is also used for South Cambs.
The result is a revised need for 11,598 houses.
How Uttlesford District Council arrived at its figure of 14,677:
UDC used a consultancy firm called ORS, better known for its work in social research. ORS compiled employment and economic growth figures from various sources to provide a starting point then applied a 14% “market signals” uplift to which UDC added provisions for communal establishments such as care homes, plus a sizeable round up. This was before the Govt decided that the ONS household figures should be the basis for calculating need.