The Local Plan update at Basingstoke has been put on pause while the council seeks to reduce its required housing numbers.
Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council’s cabinet approved a plan to delay consultation on the update at its September 27 meeting so it can approach the Secretary of State to press for a move away from the standard method for calculating housing need.
Officers will then try to come up with an alternative method and carry out work towards its five-year land supply. The borough currently has to deliver more than 17,000 new homes by the end of 2039.
But there were a number of dissenting voices, angry that the delay will lead to insufficient numbers of homes and more speculative development.
Former leader Cllr Ken Rhatigan said the proposal to pause the update abdicates responsibility and may bring forward greater numbers of homes ‘at a time of other people’s choosing, not ours’.
He had direct words for members of the cabinet and their report to the meeting. He said: “How fleet of foot, how deceptive of all of you to have written this paper. The words aren’t there but we all know what you mean. This is stopped, delayed, paused. You need tell residents honestly, what it is going to mean for them.”
In a statement issued after the meeting, Cllr Jay Ganesh, cabinet member for planning and infrastructure, said: “We have been working proactively to move forward with the Local Plan so that we can take difficult decisions about future development and involve our communities in this important debate as soon as possible.
“Our Local Plan needs to support growth and change in the borough that meets the needs of our residents and visitors in a way that responds to the climate change agenda, ensures that communities are beautiful and sustainable and that our environment is protected and enhanced, supporting the ecological emergency declaration.
“It is important to keep the plan process going but this must be in a way that responds to local concerns and local circumstances, as well as national policy and guidance.
“At the current time it has become clear that it would not be appropriate to go out to consultation on a draft plan at this stage while such significant concerns around the housing numbers remain.
“We are all agreed, and I have heard loud and clear from the councillors representing our local communities, that extreme housing growth in Basingstoke & Deane needs to slow down so there is a much more sustainable future.
“There are significant challenges around how we identify the borough’s true housing need and it is only right that full consideration is given to this issue, including making a strong case to the Government, to ensure we consult on a plan that we believe to be robust and appropriate to our local circumstances.”
A revised timetable will now mean consultation on the Local Plan will begin in Autumn 2023.
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