Controversial local housing plan for Hucknall could be paused for months or even longer

Controversial plans to build new housing on Hucknall green belt could be put on pause for months or even longer, Ashfield District Council has said.

Thursday, 11th November 2021, 3:01 pm

The council has given an update on its decision to pause the local housing plan after the first round of consultation ends on November 16.

It is still awaiting clarification on comments made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on not forcing councils to build on green belt.

And now Michael Gove MP, the new minister for levelling up, housing and communities, has stated that he is looking again at the way housing needs targets are calculated.

Ashfield District Council says controversial draft local plans to build on Hucknall green belt could on pause for some time. Photo: Google

The draft local plan includes proposals to build 3,000 new homes on Hucknall green belt at Whyburn Farm – a proposal that has drawn a furious backlash from residents.This is despite claims from the Prime Minister and others that the Government does not set housing targets.

Coun Matthew Relf (Ash Ind), cabinet member for place, planning and economic regeneration on the district council, said: “The Government say they don’t set the housing targets but they do everything but push the equals button on the calculator.

"Now Michael Gove has stated that the very assumptions we were forced to use are out of date and all Government housing policy is being looked at.

"To that end, we will pause the local plan timetable until we get greater clarity.

“The plan is highly controversial and it wouldn’t be fair to proceed when the Government states it is reviewing the whole process.

"How long this pause lasts is up to Government – it could be six months, a year, longer but we are not prepared to continue to do the Government’s bidding.

"We are still encouraging residents to have their say on the draft local plan before November 16.”

The way that housing need is calculated, which forms the basis of housing targets in local plans, is a controversial issue for the Government.

The standard method delivers a figure for housing need upon which most local authorities base their local housing targets.

It uses projected household growth figures, adjusted for areas with high house prices.

Mr Gove, speaking to the housing, communities and local government committee on November 8, said: “In making a calculation of housing need overall, one of the things I wanted to do is to look at how the numbers are generated in the first place because I think that some of the assumptions there are probably out of date.

"And I also think that some of the ways in which the use of those numbers is deployed by the planning inspector can be done in a more sophisticated way.

"But I don’t want to over-promise at this stage.”

“Improving the planning system is one thing, but there are lots of other things that you need to do in order to make sure you achieve your goals.

"Our goals are to have more people in decent homes, in the areas they want to live in and with communities welcoming regeneration.

"We absolutely do want to hit that the housing target of 300,000 homes per year.

"But we also want to take account of beauty, the environment, quality, decency, to local democratic control and infrastructure as well.”

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