To answer questions asked after notice in accordance with the provisions contained within Part 4 of the Council Rules of the Constitution on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties or which affects the District:
(a) to the Leader of the Council;
(b) to any Portfolio Holder; or
(c) to the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Questions, if any, will follow if not received in time to be incorporated into the agenda.
Question by Mrs Mary Dadd, Chairman of Ongar Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group to Councillor N Bedford, Place Portfolio Holder.
EFDC has identified some 11400 new homes to be built in the district between 2011-2033, with some 4,000+ to be delivered as allocated in the Local Plan Policy SP2 Spatial Development Strategy. by 2033 for individual civil parishes, towns etc. This is supported in the SHMA and OAHN household predictions, which indicate the number of bedrooms and flats or houses and in The Housing Mix (Planning) Guidance Note May 2021 (draft 4), which also indicates the type/topology of housing (house/flat/number of storeys/gardens) and housing mix of number of bedrooms expected for each band of density.
Clearly, and as indicated in the Local Plan Housing Policies, it is crucial to ensure that ‘mixed and balanced communities’ are retained/achieved and that supporting educational and health services can be planned ahead.
The overall approximate mix is stated as 70% 3+ bed, 20% 2 bed and 10 % 1 bed, although affordable & Mixed are slightly different from Market housing need, the former with more 1 & 2 bed homes and the latter with more 3+bed homes. This is also the same mix for Ongar’s housing stock (ONS 2011) Ongar Neighbourhood plan 2020-2033 endorses and supports EFDC Local Plan housing mix as specific to Ongar civil parish.
Allocated sites have been designated indicative density and therefore approx. capacity depending on whether they are edge of settlement, urban etc. NPPF expects efficient use of land, which (para 124) also states “the desirability of maintaining an area’s prevailing character”.
Our concern is that it is more profitable for developers to ‘offer’ the required number of affordable homes on a major development site as a mix, but with predominantly smaller houses or flats with 1-2 bedrooms and also smaller dimensions of room sizes and outdoor space, including in locations where density favours larger units. This is already evident in at least two developments recently applying for planning approval. This will not fulfil the mix of housing need over the Plan period.
Communities/towns are likely to fulfil the numbers allocations but without monitoring at the outset, the mix will be with inappropriate, and in particular, with too few family homes in low density edge of settlement locations. This imbalance is unlikely to be able to be reset in remaining allocated sites coming forward later in the Local Plan lifetime. In turn this will adversely affect educational facilities forecasting and health services predictions. in turn this will lead to more transient population.
1. How is the housing mix for new developments being monitored generally in EFDC and specifically in civil parishes or wards as allocated sites and windfall sites are coming forward, including the mix of affordable housing?
2. The Guidance Note for developers would ensure Local Plan Policies are fulfilled and the housing mix suit the housing needs. How is the Guidance Note being used in the Housing and Planning departments? including the recommendations for planning application approval or refusal by housing officers and planning officers?
3. If there is no monitoring (in both departments), please can it be set up as soon as possible?
Response given by Councillor N Bedford, Place Portfolio Holder
Councillor N Bedford thanked Mrs Dadd for submitting a question to Council and replied that key officers within the Planning Policy Team, who would have helped to provide a response to her question, were currently on annual leave and therefore a reply would not be available at this meeting. He stated that Mrs Dadd would receive a written answer within the next month, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule Q1, paragraph 3(c).