Agenda item

Motion submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 14 as to Kirklees Local Plan

To consider the following Motion in the names of Councillors Munro and Marchington;


“This Council notes that:

1)    Local authorities, including Kirklees Council, are responsible for identifying housing need in their areas. The National Planning Policy Framework sets out an approach to identifying ‘objectively assessed housing need’. Government guidance in the National Planning Practice policy outlines a recommended approach to determining ‘objectively assessed need’ through a Strategic Housing Market Assessment’ (SHMA).  This guidance is based on outdated ONS population data from 2014;


2)    Kirklees Council, like other local authorities, has set out a vision for future           development in the borough through its Local Plan. This outlines the Council’s housing and industry development strategy for the borough, including a target to build 31,140 new homes between 2013 and 2031 and is based on ONS data predictions on population growth in 2014, as recommended by the Government;

3)    Kirklees Local Plan was adopted in February 2019;

4)    There is a requirement for local authorities, including Kirklees Council, to review whether their local plans need updating at least once every 5 years, taking into account changing circumstances affecting the area or any relevant changes in national policy. The National Planning Policy Framework states that relevant strategic policies will need updating at least once every 5 years if their applicable local housing need figure has changed significantly.


This Council believes that:


1)    There is a lack of clarity in the Government guidance to local authorities on calculating ‘objectively assessed need’;


2)    Current national planning policy and strategy prioritises arbitrary and often inflated housing targets over local circumstances and local need. Local authorities, including Kirklees Council, are required to release land for development to ensure that housing targets are met. This is problematic, as local authorities are responsible for meeting the housing targets and are compelled, through national policy, to release more land for development in a bid to meet the targets. Creating higher than necessary housing targets mean that local authorities are required to identify additional sites for housing development. Inevitably, this means additional housing on inappropriate sites in the countryside, with developers often deciding to maximise profits and build on greenbelt land rather than brownfield land;  


3)    The housing figures set out in local plans are often unrealistic, which developers do not have the will or the capacity to meet. The outcome is that building rates stay low and housing targets are missed, while greenbelt land is built on and brownfield land remains vacant. When housing targets for building new homes are missed, this can result in reduced local planning control and greenbelt land being unnecessarily lost;

4)    Housing targets are based on 2014 ONS data which may be considered flawed, with unreliable numbers and a flawed methodology. It is a ‘top-down approach’ which imposes housing targets on local authorities and is not being balanced with a consideration of environmental constraints and housebuilder capacity and does not result in proper planning for infrastructure;


5)    While Kirklees Council should review its Local Plan at the first opportunity to ensure that it reflects local need and is based on up-to-date population projections, it is guided by national planning policy. The Government had previously committed to the introduction of the Planning Bill, which would reform the planning system and impact on local plans, including Kirklees Council’s Local Plan. However, there was a lack of progress with the legislation. Now the Government have introduced the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.  The Bill introduces a number of reforms to the planning system, but the finer detail is unknown. The Bill is currently progressing through Parliament in the early stages and is currently at the Committee stage;


6)  The Council needs greater clarity and guidance from Government.


This Council, therefore, resolves that:

1)  All Kirklees party leaders be invited to sign a letter to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to ask them to address the reliance on outdated 2014 data in the absence of the provision of clear guidance to better reflect local population growth;


2)   Council officers be instructed to commence a review of the Kirklees Local
Plan at the earliest opportunity.”


Item not considered (due to time constraints).