At today’s Council meeting in Shirehall, Shropshire Council unanimously approved the Site Allocations and Management of Development policy – known as SAMDev.
There was no significant debate.
I still have worries about this document. Along with Lib Dem leader Roger Evans, I questioned why there was not yet a statement of five year land supply. If we don’t have a five year land supply, SAMDev is not worth the paper it will be printed on.
The answer from Mal Price, the portfolio holder for planning, was that SAMDev provides sufficient housing land for ten years, but he did admit that’s not quite the same as the demonstration of a five year land supply demanded by the National Planning Policy Framework. The details are technical but the council must demonstrate a five year supply in the manner required by the NPPF before SAMDev goes to the planning inspectorate for examination. If there is any significant doubt over land supply, the inspectorate is likely to send SAMDev back to Shropshire Council with the message: “Must try harder”. The inspectorate will be challenging whether we have made correctly assessed the need for housing and whether SAMDev can deliver the houses specified in that assessment.
The precise details of housing land supply in Shropshire are being sorted out at the moment. This is unsatisfactory. I cannot think of any other council in the country that has approved its planning blueprint without knowing whether the council can meet land supply requirements.
Update 16 September 2014
The planning inspector has confirmed provisional dates for the SAMDev examination. These are 11-13 November 2014, 18-20 and 15-19 December.