SADC’s Local Plan brought up to date
At the Harpenden Society’s well-attended October meeting, the planning portfolio holder on St Albans District Council Mary Maynard provided an update on preparation of the council’s revised Local Plan (LP). Cllr Maynard explained that a government-approved Local Plan was needed if definitive planning decisions were to be made locally. Crucially, she said, plans for housing needed to take account of demographic changes in recent decades.
Since the early 1980s house prices had risen nationally by an average of 7% each year, pushing home ownership, especially for young people, dishearteningly out of reach.
The revised LP was designed, she said, to cover SADC’s planning strategy over the period 2020 to 2036 and to have it finalised for submission to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) by March 2019.
Under the heading of the council’s previously contentious ‘duty to co-operate’, all planning authorities in the area, including SADC as well as Dacorum and Central Bedfordshire, were obliged to liaise with each other in meeting the whole area’s housing need. That would involve fresh consultations and a new ‘call for (housing development) sites’.
Many in the Harpenden Society audience were cautiously gratified to hear Cllr Maynard say that ‘protected green belt’ also ‘needed to be delivered’, though her assertion was notably lacking in specifics. And she added, perhaps ominously, that ‘government will, where necessary, trigger policy responses ensuring that further land comes forward’.
There was now, said Cllr Maynard, a requirement that more than doubled the total of new homes required to be built in St Albans district from 450 to 913 per annum, implying a total increase from 9000 to 14,500 homes to be built in the district in the new LP’s 16-year time frame. And in apparent denial of the previously-mentioned need for ‘delivering green belt protection’, 9500 of those would need to be built on green belt land.
A full report on Cllr Maynard’s presentation will be included in the Harpenden Society’s winter newsletter.