East Lindsey’s head of planning says many proposed developments in Horncastle will not happen as there is not the demand.
David Loveday, who leaves the district council later this month, told last week’s annual parish meeting local plans make little difference in planning approvals, but Neighbourhood Plans do have an impact.
“I know what Daniel feels walking into the Lion’s Den,” he began his presentation.
Based on his correspondence, Mr Loveday said: “The main thing exciting people is the large number of planning applications, particularly for large schemes.
“Not all of these will come to fruition. Most of the developments in the country, not just in Horncastle, depend on the market. If the market is not there, schemes will not take place, whether the permision is there or not. They will not all come in and swamp the town. Larger schemes in Louth and Horncastle are not progressing as there’s not the demand for building,” he said.
However, councils have to follow government planning rules, which only count the schemes that are ‘delivered’ or constructed.
“We have a situation where we don’t have a five-year supply of land according to government requirements. They (houses) are not deliverable because the demand is not there,” he said.
Many local authorities are not meeting government supply targets “because the demand is not there,” he said.
He said this was not helped because governments were keen for councils to “give as many planning permissions as they can to fast-track the economy out of recession.”
East Lindsey, he explained, has a regional plan with a district target of 600 homes a year. But last year, just 400 were completed. This meant the council slips behind so the target must then increase to catch up.
“It’s a complete nightmare for authorities in that position. We are in the position where we will never meet that target,” he said.
Councils set targets based on based on information from central government but ELDC is using consultants to reassess the figures set for it.
“We are trying to bring some rationality into the conversation,” he said.
“It’s a never ending spiral, the market holds they key.”
He said the viability of projects were ‘never’ used to set housing targets, even with a local plan in place.
“I’m not going to be apologetic there is no local plan. We should have one. The fact that we don’t have one is not is not in any way making our position worse,” he said.
ELDC still has a plan based on the National Planning Policy Framework, giving it policy to work on. Citing a case in Cheshire, government could still impose projects despite a local plan identifying sites for development. He applauded the Horncastle Neighbourhood Development Plan.
“The further along in its life, the more weight is given to it in the planning process,” he said.