12 May 2015

Update on future housing position for Leeds

Leeds City Council is set to continue its current policy on future housing provision for the city following a considered analysis of recently-released new government figures.

The council carried out the analysis following Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government in February which projected the number of households in Leeds is to rise by 44,500 from 2012 to 2028, compared to the net 70,000 new homes identified by the council’s Core Strategy as needing to be provided over the same period.

A report on the issue is to be discussed by the council’s development plan panel at Civic Hall next week (May 19), setting out the implications of the figures and recommending continuing the policy as planned, but also continuing to evaluate any new figures as they are released with the council committed to reviewing the 70,000 Core Strategy figure within three years.

Preparations will also continue on the draft Site Allocations Plan identifying areas for possible housing development across Leeds to go out to public consultation in the autumn.

The following considerations have been made in the report and in analysing the ONS figures:

- As per the government’s national planning guidance, the ONS figures from 2012 which project significantly lower housing need than 70,000 new homes are base figures only which do not take into account a range of factors. These include housing demand generated by future economic growth and job creation, with Leeds expected to generate 56,000 new jobs by 2031 due to the strength of the city’s economy and its role at the heart of the Leeds City Region.

- Officer analysis of the latest evidence suggests that when economic growth is taken into account figures are more likely to be in the region of 60,000 new homes, but this doesn’t include the additional need to provide more affordable homes or factoring in other elements such as children living at home with their parents or sharing with friends.

- The latest ONS figures are based on the assumption that demographics and trends from 2007-12 will be repeated up to 2028. This was a period of recession when housebuilding slowed considerably. Due to the economic recovery and expected continued growth in Leeds household formation is expected to increase and the housing industry is expected to operate at a significantly higher level of productivity.

- The council’s net figure of 70,000 new homes needing to be provided was endorsed in 2014 by government inspector Mr Anthony Thickett after a lengthy public examination. During that process the council did express concerns around a slowing of projected household growth but Mr Thickett was not minded to lower the housing requirement because of his concerns at projecting forward the impacts of the recession.

- The council is committed to reviewing its housing policy in terms of need within the first three years of the Core Strategy which was approved last year. 

- The council’s plans include three phases of housing development up to 2028, with priority areas being released first those supporting regeneration, making best use of infrastructure or providing new services such as schools and with the aim of encouraging the use of brownfield land and limiting the release of greenfield sites.

- The approved Core Strategy provides a level of protection for the countryside which would be removed if the process was to be halted or reversed.

Leeds City Council executive member for neighbourhoods, planning and personnel Councillor Peter Gruen said:

“As we said when the ONS figures came out, we would look at them and take action if we think it is necessary. Having done so we do not feel halting the process, which would have major implications for housing in Leeds in terms of leaving the countryside immediately vulnerable, is justified at this time but we will continue to monitor the situation.

“We do have flexibility and options in terms of phasing and with the Site Allocations process, while we are firmly committed to a review of the overall 70,000 figure within three years as the economy continues to recover. So this is the most prudent and responsible approach to delivering the appropriate levels of new housing we need as a city.”

To see the full report to be discussed by the development plan panel, visit http://bit.ly/1cJ3kdL


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