The Decision As you will no doubt have heard the result of the Planning Inquiry is now known. The Inspector found in favour of Taylor Wimpey building 163 homes on Fairfield Road and although he decided against the 100 home scheme on Mount Pleasant, planning permission has already been granted for 95 homes on that site. The full decisions for Fairfield Road and Mount Pleasant can be downloaded here:https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/ViewCase.aspx?caseid=3011466
The Inspector has made his decision, so what does it mean?
The most obvious answer is that we are now going to get 163 homes on Fairfield Road and 95 homes on Mount Pleasant in addition to the 99 that are currently under construction on Station Road. But, if you read the whole text of his decision for Fairfield Road, he highlights two key failures by SCDC that will open the floodgates for new developments for the next 4 years.
The first is his assessment of the Council’s claim to have achieved the all important 5 year housing land supply.
When we met with Philip Rowson of SCDC on 26th August 2015 he told us that they had been conservative in the calculation of the claimed 5.12 year housing land supply and they were happy to defend it. The Inspector’s conclusion is that it is not 5.12 years, it is 3.7 years, at best. In his assessment some of the assumptions made by SCDC to meet its 5 year housing land supply figure are suspect, so the 3.7 years figure is a best case scenario.
Legislation states that if the Council has not identified sites for new homes that will meet Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) for the next 5 years then the Council’s own Development Plan (and our own Neighbourhood Plan) are considered to be silent and there must be a presumption in favour of sustainable development. This means the policies put in place to control development by SCDC (Local Plan) and by Framlingham Town Council (Neighbourhood Plan) are silent and there is a free-for-all for developers.
The Inspector’s second key point is SCDC’s failure to meet the deadline for a full review of its own Local Plan. When the SCDC Local Plan was approved by the Planning Inspectorate in 2012 the housing supply figures were not considered robust so it was approved on the understanding that SCDC would undertake a full review of the OAN and this would be completed by 31stDecember 2015 at the latest. This has not happened and the Inspector’s assessment, based on the evidence provided by SCDC, is that the earliest this review will be completed is Nov/Dec 2019, four years behind schedule.
The SCDC’s own Development Plan (also known as Local Plan or Core Strategy) is out of date and is going to be out of date for at least another 3½ years. This is a shambles. SCDC has known it needed to conduct a full review of the Local Plan since 2012. It has known this review is a binding commitment and had three years to complete it, yet it is going to be at least 4 years late in completing that review.
So there is no 5 year housing land supply and no prospect of that being fixed any time soon and the Local Plan, which SCDC relies upon to control and manage development, is out of date and will remain so for another 4 years.
Consequently, we and the all the other communities in SCDC face at least 4 years of uncontrolled development.
What can we do?
Write to the Stephen Baker, Chief Executive and Head of Paid Service of SCDC(firstname.lastname@example.org)and complain. SCDC have very clearly failed in their responsibility to provide an auditable, robust and plan-led approach to providing the housing numbers required. As a result of their failure to fulfil their statutory duty we, and other communities, now have very limited resources prevent unwanted development.
Write to your District Councillor and complain. Cllr Christopher Hudson, (email@example.com)69 Fore Street Framlingham Woodbridge, IP13 9DDor Cllr Paul Rous, (firstname.lastname@example.org)Dennington Hall, Woodbridge IP13 8AU They are your elected representative at SCDC and should be asking how this has happened and how it is going to be resolved.
Write to your MP and bring this to his or her attention. This is a failure of local government and it needs to be fixed.
Pressure SCDC to prioritise resolving the 5 year housing land supply problem and complete the review of the Local Plan so we have a legally enforceable development plan and can stop uncontrolled development. It is clear that they cannot do this themselves - so suggest they use some of the millions of pounds being collected in CIL to find an organisation that can sort it out. This is a priority.
If we do not get these two problems solved then we face the very real prospect of even further development in our town. In paragraph 24 the Inspector concludes the Council is almost wholly reliant on sites being brought forward to address the shortfall and future housing needs. This means SCDC is actually dependent on more sites like Fairfield Road coming forward in order to have any chance of meeting its housing backlog and achieving the 5 year land supply target.
It gets worse. Further on in the Decision the Inspector concludes that Fairfield Road meets all three requirements for sustainable development in providing economic, social and environmental benefits. This means we have ‘perfect storm’ conditions for further development around Fram – SCDC needs additional sites for 100’s of homes; the inspector has decided further development in Fram is sustainable and there is no credible development plan to stop uncontrolled development.
SCDC need to fix this now and we need all our members to make their individual voices heard to the Chief Executive.
If you require further information or you want to discuss the outcome more fully, either email: email@example.com OR visit us outside the Unitarian Meeting House, Bridge Street on Sunday between 12.00 and 3pm for the Fram Gravity Go-Kart Race. We will be dispensing membership forms and cake.