Social media comments prompt Council to release housing needs draft report

By Kevin Black in Planning

Comments on social media have apparently led to Tandridge District Council’s decision to release a draft of a report about the district’s objective assessment of housing need.

The report has not been published or made available until now because it was a draft report, prepared by planning consultancy arc4 and included a housing need requirement which was significantly higher than the assessment of need the Council has since accepted and used in its Local Plan preparation.

The Council says it was concerned the release of the report would cause unnecessary concern for residents and also lead to some developers exploiting the information contained in it. It is hoped the release of the report, despite its content being unhelpful, demonstrates the Council is and always has been working in the best interests of the district to deliver a Local Plan.

The Council has since agreed the objectively assessed housing need for the district is an annual figure of 470, which amounts to 9,400 dwellings over 20 years. This figure has been prepared by Neil McDonald Consultancy.

The draft report by arc4, now released, recommended the figure should be 700 per annum, leading to a 20 year total of 14,000. The Council says it remains entirely confident the lower figure it has adopted is correct and justified and it is not using the draft data and conclusions reached by Arc4 as part of the plan making process.

Councillor Peter Bond, Chairman of the Planning Policy Committee said: “While we have been preparing our Local Plan there has been misleading information and conspiracy theories issued about the process we have been following. One of the areas which has attracted much speculation is the housing need figure. I hope in publishing this report it clearly shows there is no conspiracy and we have been acting in the best interests of our residents in protecting our Green Belt."

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