Northamptonshire Local Plan Watch - Spring 2022
Initial Call for Sites across West Northamptonshire at the end of 2021 and North Northamptonshire in early 2022 shows progress to move forward with new Local Plans for each Authority.
With West Northamptonshire’s Spatial Strategy Options and Call for Sites consultation closing on 24th December 2021, and North Northamptonshire’s Call for Sites consultation which closed on 25th April 2022, there is the opportunity to make representations to North Northamptonshire’s Scope and Issues consultation running until 23rd May 2022.
Both Authorities have set out ambitious timeframes to deliver new Strategic Local Plans covering West Northamptonshire and North Northamptonshire. A fundamental challenge as we move forward will be continued housing delivery to meet the housing requirements by the respective plan periods of the adopted Joint Core Strategies (JCS).
West Northampotonshire Council (WNC) and North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) have struggled in some locations to bring forward Strategic Urban Extensions (SUE) at the pace originally envisaged, particularly around the edge of Northampton and other key settlements such as Daventry and Rushden. Northampton and other towns within the County are likely to be the most obvious location for further growth in the new Strategic Local Plans and a key challenge will be unlocking the delivery of additional SUEs in addition to those in the adopted JCS.
The adopted Part 2 Local Plans have in some cases helped to bring forward short-term housing delivery where there has been an identified shortfall. Other areas of the County such as East Northamptonshire are also seeking to make up the shortfall in key growth locations, whilst managing potential issues relating to infrastructure, market absorption and saturation of growth that could affect the rates of housing delivery in certain locations.
Principal Planner, Robert Love, attended and participated in the first week of hearing sessions in early April 2022 in respect of the examination of the East Northamptonshire District-wide Local Plan Part 2. During the hearing sessions, the Examination Inspector has requested that NNC provide further consideration on their anticipated housing trajectory for the delivery of strategic sites as part of the examination process.
Five Year Land Supply
WNC 2021 Housing Land Supply Statements identified some 6.3 years for the former administrative areas of Daventry and South Northamptonshire, both of which do not include land within the Northampton Related Development Area (NRDA) where, separately, it has been acknowledged that a five-year housing land supply does not exist, with 4.8 years stated (although appeal decisions have found this figure to be lower).
Over the past year, several appeal decisions found the South Northamptonshire area able to demonstrate a five-year supply. Inspector’s supported the Council’s decision to undertake a ‘review’ of the JCS strategic policies and continue to use the JCS housing requirement for calculating its five-year housing land supply, rather than using the Local Housing Need figures.
Interestingly, NNC have taken the reverse approach and chosen not to ‘review’ it’s JCS policies, instead using the Local Housing Need figures for the basis of its five-year housing land supply (Planning Practice Guidance, Paragraph: 005, Reference ID: 68-005-20190722). Furthermore, NNC has chosen not to disaggregate the figures across the former Authority areas, resulting in an overall 7.05 years across North Northamptonshire.
Currently, WNC and NNC appear to be in a strong position to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, with the exception of the NRDA. Should they experience further delays in housing delivery, this could open up a window of opportunity for speculative development to come forward to help meet short-term supply.
Without timely progress on the new Strategic Plans, there will likely be increasing short-term housing land supply pressures, possibly driving a continuation of speculative applications.
All of the former Authority areas for West Northamptonshire and North Northamptonshire perform relatively well against the Housing Delivery Test (HDT) 2021 Results published in January 2022, with the exception of Northampton Borough (90%) who are required to prepare an Action Plan.
For detail on emerging Local Plan position in Northamptonshire please click on the map below.