Buckinghamshire Local Plan Watch - Autumn 2022
With both Milton Keynes (April 2022) and Buckinghamshire (September 2022) having completed their Call for Sites, work can now progress on the evidence bases of both plans in preparation of expected Regulation 18 consultations during 2023.
Whilst the results of the call for sites are yet to be published, it is known that Buckinghamshire will need to identify greenfield sites for allocation as it has already been acknowledged that there are insufficient brownfield sites across the county to meet need.
The similar Local Plan timetables, with both plans working to adoption before 2025, provides an opportunity for strong collaboration between Milton Keynes Council and Buckinghamshire Council, particularly around the spatial strategy for north Buckinghamshire. Milton Keynes, through its Growth Strategy, has already explored potential growth options for the area, with allocations on the edge on Milton Keynes in the VALP showing the potential the area offers to meet Buckinghamshire’s need. With a potential route for a southern bypass reserved through the South East MK site, there may be mutual benefits in the authorities collaborating and exploring the potential of this area in more detail.
Five Year Housing Land Supply
The latest Milton Keynes Council position is the Assessment of Five Year Housing Land Supply 2021/22 to 2025/26, published in September 2021 identifying a 5YHLS position of 5.98 years.
Updates have confirmed that in the first quarter of 2022/23, there were 971 completions – the highest quarterly figure since 1989. With over 3,000 units under construction, supply in Milton Keynes remains strong.
Buckinghamshire Council also published its Five Year Housing Land Supply Position Statements in April 2022, for the period 2022-2027. These are based on the former district areas and identified the 5YHLS positions:
• Aylesbury Vale = 5.2 years;
• Chiltern = 2.1 years;
• South Bucks = 2.7 years;
• and Wycombe = 6.5 years
Milton Keynes (128%) and Buckinghamshire (107%) perform well against the Housing Delivery Test (HDT) 2021 Results published in January 2022.
There are also likely to be limited short-term opportunities in the southern part of the County where Green Belt generally trumps a deficit in housing land supply. However, as we’ve seen in neighbouring Hertfordshire at Colney Heath, there could be potential opportunities where there is significant lack of a supply of housing.
The limited buffer in Aylesbury’s supply indicates that there may be emerging opportunities should the delivery of identified sites start to slip. The ‘minimum’ five year requirement also suggests that irrespective of any slippage, the Council may need to take a proactive approach to approving unallocated development to ensure the supply of sites is maintained at a healthy level.
It is worth noting that that from April 2025, under the Guidance in the current National Planning Practice Guidance (reference ID: 68-025-20190722), the housing policies of the former district plans will not be able to be relied upon and the Local Housing Need figure for Buckinghamshire will form the basis of the land supply calculation. Unless the Strategic Plan has progressed, and additional land allocated, this may impact on the overall five year and supply figure, and place additional pressure on those less constrained areas of the County.