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Babergh Alliance of Parish & Town Councils

Comments on Topic: 5 Year Land supply

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Submitted by Paul
At the end of last year we received confirmation from Babergh they had a good 5 year land supply. It appears to have disappeared in the past few months (see below). Very convenient for them, especially as Babergh maintain these figures!

From: Deborah Largent 
Sent: 24 March 2017 12:37
Cc: Lindsay Barker; Tom Barker; Philip Isbell; Bill Newman
Subject: SENT ON BEHALF OF BILL NEWMAN - Babergh Five Year Supply of Housing

 Dear Members

 I write to advise that the 5 year supply of land for housing(5YSLH) in Babergh has now fallen below 5 years. This means that the requirements of paragraph 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), now apply to applications for housing development. Para 49 states “Housing applications should be considered in the context of the presumption in favour of sustainable development. Relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

 Our position on supply has fallen because of a number of factors acting in concert. These include the declining annual rate of housing delivery (the numbers built) in the District since 2013. Moreover, since the adoption of the District’s Core Strategy in 2014, delivery in the rural area has been managed, amongst other things, through policy CS11.  However, following the recent High Court challenge, the interpretation and implementation of the application of this policy is subject to review. In consequence the Council has now received a number of challenges to the Council’s stated position on the 5 year supply (through current planning applications and 2 appeals). Therefore, we will need to provide an interim up to date position ahead of the Annual Monitoring Report (usually published in July). A draft interim position is now being prepared  which will indicate that the supply position has dropped to 3-4 years (depending on whether an estimated new OAN number is used or that stated in the current Local Plan). This interim assessment of land supply will also be informed by the our emerging evidence  for the new local plan and the need to respond to the implementation challenges which the District is facing, alongside the increasing emphasis on delivery as set out in the Government White Paper ‘Fixing Our Broken Housing Market’.

 The Council will positively address these challenges in the emerging Local Plan, although in the interim planning decisions will be informed by the NPPF as described above. The timetable for preparing the Joint Local Plan is available in the Council’s Local Development Scheme on the new website. The Council will also make information about the range of sites coming forward from the Call for Sites carried out last year and the Strategic Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment(SHELAA) available to better inform decision making pending the adoption of the new Local Plan. The Council has also adopted a new approach to working with owners and developers to deliver those sites which are either allocated or approved with a view to increasing delivery so that an adequate supply can be restored as soon as possible.

 I realise that this information may have been unexpected but wanted to ensure that Members became aware of this position through a direct communication and not through a third party. If you require any further information from me, please get in touch and I will do my best to assist.


 Bill Newman

Corporate Manager – Strategic Planning

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council - Working Together

Needham Market 01449 724891                   

Hadleigh: 01473 825712

Mobile:07860 826994

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Submitted by John
The White Paper (plus an earlier ministerial statement) also reinforces the status of Neighbourhood Plans where the five year supply is inadequate. However, the Government's position on this is currently subject to legal challenge by an alliance of developers. Babergh's revised Local Plan is not expected to be ready for consultation till the summer and not ready for adoption till Spring 2019, assuming all goes to plan. In the meantime relevant evidence is held by Babergh and Mid Suffolk. A BAPTC letter for all PCs in Babergh, encouraging them to lobby the DC has had to be re-drafted several times in order to react to national news and that from Babergh this but should be ready soon.


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Submitted by Paul
My question is why has the Babergh land supply "suddenly" slipped below the 5 year threshold. Is because they have now included Mid Suffolk? or are there other reasons?

Given this metric, like the Housing needs register is managed by Babergh, what independent controls are there to ensure this data is accurate?

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Submitted by Paul
I have just received the following after a meeting with Babergh officers:

Important Update

The supply ofhousing land in Babergh has now fallen below 5 years, to 3-4 years. A number ofcontributory factors and challenges by developers have caused this.

2.    This means that therequirements of Paragraph 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)now apply to applications for housing development. Para 49 states “Housingapplications should be considered in the context of the presumption in favourof sustainable development. Relevant policies for the supply of housing should notbe considered up-to-date if the local planning authority cannot demonstrate afive-year supply of deliverable housing sites.”

3.    So, as of now existing policies that affect housingsupply, including CS2 and CS11, are considered as out of date and whilst someaspects of these policies will be considered, weight will be given to Para. 49above i.e. planning applications will be subject to a presumption in favourunless there are significant and exceptional reasons against.

4.    The same applies to Neighbourhood Plans that do notinclude allocations e.g. East Bergholt and Lavenham. Para. 49 of NPPF will begiven priority over these too.

5.    This situation could change if the land supply creepsabove 5 years again.

In summary it seems that Babergh are now under pressure to accord withthe Government’s ‘presumptionin favour of sustainable development’ and we leftwith the very clear view that we are unlikely to be able to prevent the twoapplications being approved. It seems that Neighbourhood Plans may be of valuein the future but only if they contain site allocations and numbers that accordwith the new Local Plan.

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Submitted by Elizabeth
Hi Paul
I  do not understand BDC list as it appears not to have Ganges at Shotley on it
Have I missed something? 


Elizabeth Aldous
Freston PC
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Submitted by Paul
Last night East Bergholt Parish council met with Arthur Charvonia and Bill Newman to discuss issues. They went to great length to state they were keen to engage with and listen to their Parish Councils. I explained that BAPTC was formed as an enabler for Babergh to communicate with Councils. They were not enthusiastic about talking with us but did not dismiss the idea.

One point that was raised was the "sudden" loss of the 5 year land supply. Bill replied at length covering the process to produce the new Local Plan (core strategy) and briefly covered the 5 year land supply. 

He said that as Babergh had not been meeting Government targets for building houses and there was a clause that meant they had to discount their available land supply figures. Babergh were under threat from developers who were aware of this position and he had "no choice" but to make this statement. Personally, I would be surprised if he were not correct in his statement about the figures. However he did admit there were a large number of uncompleted outstanding planning approvals.

He also said he would be unable to present these figures to the Councillors until after the elections because they were in purdah. I am not certain about the accuracy of this statement as the elections are County elections and not District elections. He also stated a new call for sites has gone out including small sites. He implied that once these had been considered, they could restore the land supply.

However, Bill also confirmed that paragraph 49 of NPPF, meant that local policies were "overridden". As we suspect this will negate the results of our Judicial Review.

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Submitted by Paul

Yesterday an application to build a large number of houses that a) does not comply with the Judicial Review ruling and b) does not comply with our Neighbourhood Plan was submitted to Babergh.

It is assumed this is now "allowed" because Babergh no longer have a 5 year land supply.

It would appear that communities are suffering (again) because Babergh is unable to deliver the housing it has already approved.

It is time for action?
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Submitted by Paul

1) Babergh has contacted all developers suggesting they get their applications in as soon as possible while the "shields are down". 

2) We are already seeing applications being submitted including two at East Bergholt, one of which was the one that had been overturned by the JR.

3) East Bergholt Parish Council has agreed to seek the advice of a consultant to review Babergh's housing figures with the hope this will be able to overturn Babergh's statement they do not have a 5 year supply.

May I suggest that interested Councils that form part of the Alliance contact the East Bergholt clerk to allow us to coordinate our efforts / costs.

Time is of the essence

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Submitted by John

My understanding is that at present the Minister’s statement of Dec 2016 stands. I think the relevant parts include:

"This means that relevant policies for the supply of housing in a neighbourhood plan, that is part of the development plan, should not be deemed to be ‘out-of-date’ under paragraph 49 of the National Planning Policy Framework where all of the following circumstances arise at the time the decision is made:

  • This written ministerial statement is less than 2 years old, or the neighbourhood plan has been part of the development plan for 2 years or less;
  • The neighbourhood plan allocates sites for housing; and
  • The local planning authority can demonstrate a three-year supply of deliverable housing sites. 

This statement applies to decisions made on planning applications and appeals from today. This statement should be read in conjunction with the National Planning Policy Framework and is a material consideration in relevant planning decisions." 

However,the content and outcomes of the Minister's statement are being challenged:

I have noted the Easter Bergholt letters in the EADT on this subject but I have yet to see a legal opinion on the likely outcome of the neighbourhood plan/supply challenge. 

Also,there does not seem to be an evaluation of the SHLAA, SHELAA potential in Babergh’s latest scenario.

Finally,there seems to be an apparent contradiction in Babergh’s position. By acceptingthe JR judgement the housing supply is reduced to the point where the JR can nolonger apply (Catch 22). This does not appear reasonable.

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Submitted by Paul

The problem with your statement is that our NP is CRITERIA based and does not ALLOCATE sites. This approach was adopted as it is more flexible as it can allocate sites as they are offered rather than at the start of the NP process.
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Submitted by Joop
I merely wonder whether All approved sites for residential development had been taken into consideration into Babergh count?
For instance we (at Brantham) were in assured that the 322 sites projected for Brantham (to finance the regeneration project under CS10) was in addition and superfluous to Babergh's housing requirements. The outline planning application was approved by BDC in May 2016, and one assumes that Babergh's stats were still correct at that stage?
When was the (subsequent) shortfall discovered, and/or have other "undisclosed" factors contributed to the shortfall? 
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Submitted by Chris
You may be aware that in Capel St Mary we are facing two applications, one for 100 Hopkins Homes due to be heard at Committee on 26th April, and Persimmon Homes 150 houses to be decided in May. The PC refused both applications but we have been told by Philip Isabell in no uncertain terms that it is probable in the current climate that both could possibly be approved. These two are the first of many we suspect.
Paul Ireland recommended David Bowman to me who supported their JR. He mentioned the National Planning Casework Unit (NPCU) who may take your case and the application can be immediately suspended. I have asked the NPCU to intervene on both applications but wait to see the outcome.
Please wait .....