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Homing in on housing target
Friday 14th March 2014 @ 10:43 by Lisa B


Councillors are to meet to consider a projected housing target for High Peak.

It’s another step to find land for the thousands of homes they know there just isn’t the room for.

The councillors have to examine the latest draft of the borough’s Local Plan, the document the council has worked on for months.

If approved, there will be a further six weeks of consultation before a decision is taken by the council on whether to submit it to the Government.

Every council in the country must commission an independent assessment of its housing need.

Ministers claim that in High Peak’s case that’s between 420 and 470 new homes a year for the next 20 years.

Councillors, who will meet on Tuesday, believe it is an impossible target.

They point to the impact on green belt, flood plains, the National Park,  and the increased pressure it puts on roads.

They say that if every suitable site is included in the plan, it would still only provide an average of 360 houses a year.

Planning minister Nick Boles has made it clear that the council must make every effort to meet its housing need when he met leader Caitlin Bisknell and Executive Member for Regeneration Godfrey Claff last month.

The issue has also been discussed with a Government planning inspector who, while confirming the council was moving in the right direction, advised it should leave ‘no stone unturned’ to meet its independently assessed housing need.

Not doing so would result in the plan being rejected, resulting in the council losing control over development.

Cllr Claff told the Chronicle: “The council is in a difficult position. I understand the concerns expressed by some High Peak residents and I know that the plan will not please everyone.

“But it has been made clear to us by the planning minister that we must make every effort to meet the assessed housing need.

“In the interests of High Peak as a whole, we have to go down this route to protect the borough. To do any differently would mean the council losing any vestige of control over planning matters.”

A review of the green belt in High Peak has also taken place.

Independent consultants had suggested removing a small section on Kinder Road, Hayfield.

But, following consultation with residents and other evidence, it is recommended it does not go ahead and that the green belt in Hayfield remains unchanged.

The Government expects all councils, if they cannot meet their assessed housing need within their area, to talk to neighbouring councils to check whether they are able to take the shortfall.

The council is, therefore, negotiating with neighbouring councils and Cheshire East Council has agreed to take a total of 500 houses, 25 per year.

by David Jones