Many in the development industry have their focus on the Cambridge to Oxford Growth Corridor and the opportunities that could be unlocked by the investment in infrastructure such as the east-west rail line and the express road. September’s consultation document on a standardised model for housing need may well have focused that attention on the centre of this growth corridor where housing need would appear to be greatest.
Since last November’s interim report from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), there is a need for governance amongst the central Local Authority areas outside of Cambridge and Oxford. Following the interim report, there has been much change within the planning system, namely the publication of the Housing White Paper, which is due to lead to revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in the Spring of 2018. In addition to these, the consultation on a standard method for calculating local authorities’ housing needs has seen a raft of Local Plan activity with many trying to avoid being captured by the outcome, by submitting for Examination before March 2018.
This draft document identifies the impact on housing needs upon each LPA area, if the standardised methodology was implemented. The results of which vary greatly, but one notable trend is the percentage increase between 1%-40%+ across Aylesbury Vale (AVDC), Milton Keynes (MKBC), Central Bedfordshire (CBC) and Bedford Borough (BBC). This is an area where the proposed east-west rail line is likely to cross. So, what is going on within each of these LPAs?
CBC is aiming to submit its Local Plan for examination in late 2018 and will therefore be captured by the standardised methodology. The plan includes a new settlement at Tempsford, along with a focus on delivering growth in and around the potential for future investment in road and rail infrastructure, including the potential east-west rail hub at Sandy, the A1, A507, A421 and M1 corridors. CBC has recently lost an appeal identifying a failure to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing. Although they may seek to challenge this decision, they are presently at threat from windfall development.
BBC is also likely to submit their Local Plan for examination post March 2018. They are awaiting the outcome of a recent appeal challenge on housing land supply, which, if allowed, would leave them open to speculative development. The focus of growth within the emerging plan includes the potential for one of four new settlements, further extensions to the growth area and allocations to the first and second tier villages.
MKBC is also awaiting the outcome of an appeal on housing land supply, which could open a window for development opportunities. Their Plan MK is supposedly on track to go to Cabinet in October 2017 with a view to being submitted before the March 2018 deadline. The plan sets out new growth areas for future delivery south-east of MK and at land east of the M1, as well as at Eton Leys. This will only be a short respite for MK however with the intention for the standard methodology to apply to each local plan five years after its adoption.
AVDC are currently leading the way on housing delivery within the growth area (1,300-1,400 per annum). They are claiming over nine years’ housing land supply and are targeting a 25% affordable housing policy in their emerging Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan (VALP), which is currently scheduled to be submitted before March 2018. This supply is somewhat questionable however with an appeal in July 2017 that considered housing land supply in detail concluding that AVDC could only demonstrate 4.9 years. The growth strategy centres around existing core settlements such as Aylesbury Garden Town, Buckingham, Winslow, Wendover and Haddenham and the inclusion of a new settlement.
As highlighted above, these LPAs face substantial increases in housing need under the draft standardised methodology. These figures do not take account of the overspill expected from surrounding constrained areas with both Aylesbury Vale and Central Bedfordshire expected to accommodate several thousand more houses. In addition to increased investment in substantial rail and road infrastructure, this has the potential to unlock vast development opportunities across this area.
The following publications are ones to look out for over the next six months to shed more light on future opportunities within this vibrant central area of the corridor.
- Standardised Methodology FOAN, under consultation until 9th November 2017
- NIC Final Report on Cambridge-MK-Oxford Corridor, 22nd November 2017
- VALP – Regulation 19 Pre-Submission consultation expected in late Autumn 2017
- PLAN MK – Regulation 19 Pre-Submission consultation expected late Autumn 2017
- CBC Local Plan – Regulation 19 Pre-Submission expected Spring 2018
- BBC Local Plan - Regulation 19 Pre-Submission expected Spring 2018
Please do get in contact if you wish to discuss the implications for your sites across this region.