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Uncertainty hovers over Breckland again as housing land supply figure falls

PUBLISHED: 16:16 01 August 2017

Breckland Council's offices in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Breckland Council's offices in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

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Breckland Council is once again unable to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, it has emerged, leaving the district vulnerable to “hostile” applications again.

Town and district councillor Phillip Duigan.  Picture: Norfolk Conservatives. Town and district councillor Phillip Duigan. Picture: Norfolk Conservatives.

A report to planners, who met on Monday, said at best the figure was just 4.6 years supply, down from the 5.6 years it reported to have identified in October last year.

As part of the National Planning Policy Framework, all planning authorities are required to identify sufficient specific deliverable sites to deliver the next five years of housing provision.

Without this in place it gives developers a loophole for submitting applications for large scale developments outside settlement boundaries, often on green field sites.

While last October Breckland had identified 4,139 deliverable dwellings expected to be built over the next five year period, that number has now fallen to 3,605.

The report, by director of planning Alex Chrusciak, said: “The council recognises that steps need to be taken to remedy the situation. The emerging Local Plan is the key resolution of the current position, a number of allocations for housing development will be made on land that would not currently be considered suitable.

“The council will consider favourably development on sustainable sites which fall immediately adjacent to settlement boundaries which meet the relevant requirements of the Development Plan in order to boost the supply of housing in the short term.”

Phillip Duigan, a Dereham town and Breckland district councillor, who sits on the planning committee, said the fall in numbers was due to approved developments not being started, particularly in the Thetford area.

He said: “It does make us vulnerable again to hostile applications which are outside settlement boundaries. It will put more pressure on places like Toftwood and other places where there are already large applications awaiting a decision and will have a knock-on effect around the district as I suspect planning companies will start looking again at areas where they want to build. It takes part of the control out of our hands.

“The five year housing land supply calculation is very complex and creates some uncertainty in the system which is never good.”

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