Tory “irrational” housing policy quashed will help Cornwall provide local homes

Posted on: 8th August 2015

Tory “irrational” housing policy quashed will help Cornwall provide local homes.

The Lib Dem Cabinet member for Planning on Cornwall Council, Edwina Hannaford, has strongly welcomed the news that a Judicial Review has overturned a Government decision that was making it easier for developers to avoid contributing to local needs housing, known as affordable housing contributions.  Prior to the Government decision, Cornwall could require a contribution if 2 or more homes were being built but this was raised to a threshold of 10, impacting on many rural communities where development proposals do tend to be smaller but housing need is still high.

Cornwall Councils Planning Department supported the Judicial Review by supplying evidence of impact. Presiding Judge Mr Justice Holgate agreed with the claimants assertions that the Secretary of States decision was inconsistent, unfair and irrational.

Edwina said, “The judge found comprehensively in favour of the councils on four of the five grounds and has ordered that the relevant part of the National Planning Policy Guidance relating to the Ministerial Statement made last November and all subsequent changes be quashed.” “I believe that the Cornwall Local Plan and local Neighbourhood Plans  are the appropriate place to test what works for Cornwall, not a blanket National statement.”

Edwina continued “This is a damming indictment of the inability of the Tory Government to listen to the specific needs of Cornwall and I wholly agree with the Judges findings.” “Removing these thresholds was one of the main asks in the  ‘Case for Cornwall’ planning section, which incidentally was opposed by the Tory Group on Cornwall Council.”

Lib Dem group leader and Deputy Leader of the Council, Adam Paynter, said. “The Lib Dem group were incensed that the Tory Secretary of State decided, against our advice and evidence, to drive a horse and coaches through our affordable housing policies overnight by removing the need for developers to contribute to affordable housing, open spaces and education by arbitrarily upping the threshold to 10 from 2.”
“Our position in opposing this change of policy has now been vindicated and the Tory group on Cornwall Council should be ashamed they didn’t support our stance in the ‘Case for Cornwall’.”

Lib Dem Cabinet Holder for Housing on Cornwall Council Joyce Duffin said. “We estimated that this would leave a £2m black hole in our ability to deliver affordable homes for local people in Cornwall.” “We have one of the best track records of delivering affordable housing  in the Country; over 1000 in the last year and feared this change in policy would set us back.”  “Now that the courts have overturned the Secretary of States announcement, we can revert back to the original policy of asking for an affordable housing contribution on 2 or more homes in a development and build on that good track record of delivery.”

Edwina concluded,”We are grateful to West Berkshire and Reading Councils for mounting the Judicial Review, supported by our evidence of impact. We hope that the Government will now come back to the table to take a new look at the planning asks in the ‘Case for Cornwall’ so we can can have planning policies that suit the unique settlement patterns and landscape of Cornwall and not a one size fits all approach.”