Newcastle North candidate Anita Lower calls for second opinion on Newcastle Council greenfield housing numbers based on new DCLG data showing city is 7000 homes over quota

March 3, 2015 5:53 PM

Liberal Democrats are to challenge Newcastle Core Strategy greenfield housebuilding target after new DCLG figures suggest it's 36% too high: 7000 homes may not be needed after all

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Lib Dem candidate for Newcastle North and leader of the Lib Dem opposition on Newcastle City Council Anita Lower Above) has called for an independent "second opinion" on Newcastle City Council's Core Strategy annual housebuilding target figure,after revised DCLG estimates on projected household growth predicted a much lower figure than that used by the council in its evidence base.

Although the Newcastle-Gateshead Core Strategy was recently approved by a Planning Inspector, this was on the basis that it complied with the DCLG's 2011 household estimate figures for the 25 year period to 2036. However, Durham County Council's local plan has since been rejected on the grounds that it was overambitious and its targets were unrealistically high.

DCLG has subsequently released updated estimates for annual local authority household growth using 2012 population and census data, in which the anticipated annual requirement for new homes has been revised downward for Newcastle from 1051 per year to 770, based on an estimated 16.3% total household growth over the next 25 years.

Cllr Anita Lower believes this is of major significance for the robustness of the Newcastle Core Strategy, and is likely to have major implications in terms of greenfield land release, potentially leading to far more greenfield land being released for development than required.

She commented:

"The new DCLG evidence base is significant, as it shows that Newcastle's anticipated housing requirement is likely to be considerably smaller than the council predicts. The council appears to be planning for around 280 more houses per year than necessary, and over 25 years this equates to around 7000 extra houses being built without proven need.

"This has major implications for the robustness of Newcastle's Core Strategy. It could mean that whole swathes of the Green Belt in the north west of the city are sacrificed for houses that won't be needed. I acknowledge that housebuilders almost certainly won't build all of these if demand does not materalise, but I am concerned that the decisions being taken now to designate greenfield land for long term development will have significant consequences for local communities in North West Newcastle, including the Great Park, Kingston Park and Dinnington in my ward. Other potential sites including Callerton, Throckley, and Westerhope may also be challenged."

"Although the Planning Inspector recently gave the go-ahead to the Newcastle plan, it is important to note that this was on the basis of the old figures. It is striking that Durham's plan has been turned down for being unrealistic in over-predicting their requirements. This is a very big issue for Newcastle over the next 25 years and it is important to get it right.

"I and my Lib Dem colleagues will be calling for a 'second opinion' based on the new evidence, and we will be writing to the council and to Eric Pickles asking for a review of the numbers used in the plan given that the council's plan now appears to be more than 35% over quota. There is a very real possibility that the council has got its sums wrong. "