Report confirms that East Devon does have a 5.7 year supply of land to enable the delivery of new homes

Members of East Devon District Council’s Strategic Planning Committee recently met (on 27 November 2018) to consider two reports, one relating to future housing needs in the district and the other on how the council is delivering new homes to meet those needs.

The first report, which considers housing needs for the district, explains how the numbers have now increased from 844 homes per year to 953 per year, following new household projections statistics published by the Office of National Statistics.

However, the report also states that the government are currently consulting on changes to the calculator, which would mean that these new household projections would no longer be used. The new figures have caused concern in government and across the country as in most areas the household projections are substantially lower than those previously calculated, suggesting that the housing needs are not as high as previously thought.

The figures for East Devon have however bucked this trend and continue to show a significant growth in the number of households projected in the district in the future. The report recommends a proposed response to the consultation, but if the changes were put in place by government the need figure would go back to being 844 per year. Both figures are however minimum figures, since they do not take account of wider factors such as greater than usual levels of economic growth, which have previously increased housing needs in the district.

The report also considers the findings of a report recently published by the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England), which suggests that housing needs figures across Devon are overstated. The report to Strategic Planning Committee challenges some of the findings of the CPRE report, but concludes that assessing housing needs is not an exact science and that further work is needed. With this in mind the report recommends that further work is done on identifying the housing needs of specific groups of the community in East Devon to understand their needs before a workshop is set up for councillors to discuss the issue.

The second report discussed at the meeting, considers how the council is meeting housing needs when measured against the government requirement to maintain a five year supply of housing land. The report concludes that the council can show a 5.71 year supply and therefore maintains a five year housing land supply. The report, however, cautions that this figure has dropped from just over six years in the previous year and there is therefore a need to maintain supply and deliver the council’s projected delivery rates in order to continue to maintain an adequate supply.

Cllr Paul Diviani, Chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee, said:

The whole issue of housing need figures has got very confusing and so it is important that we do not rush to conclusions, but take time to gather the evidence needed to have an informed discussion as members about the needs of the district. The one thing that is clear is that we must ensure that we don’t just deliver the right number of new houses but that they are the right types of properties, in the right locations to meet the needs of our communities and that they provide good quality homes for our residents.

The agenda for Strategic Planning Committee can be read on the East Devon website.