The examination of the council’s local plan for delivering housing and employment sites (SAMDev) is going well. The plan is now expected to be adopted by the council, after amendments, in the summer.

Many other councils have been told by the planning inspector to suspend or halt the examination midway through the examination, usually because the plan does not provide for enough housing. Claire Sherratt, the inspector, told the council:

I do not intend to suggest to the council that the examination is suspended or the SAMDev Plan withdrawn.

Some changes have already been agreed.

Community opposition to housing (or support) will no longer be taken into account in cases where a development will lead to a town or village exceeding the housing total allocated in SAMDev. The new text makes clear the housing guideline for any settlement “is not a maximum figure but development going beyond it by too great a degree could result in unsustainable development that stretches infrastructure and community goodwill towards breaking point.”

The revised text will allow planners to consider the impacts of development, including the cumulative impacts of successive developments in a settlement.

A clause that tried to block developers repeated renewing planning permission without showing any commitment to building has been deleted.

Housing land supply

If we fall below five years supply of housing land, it becomes very difficult to oppose speculative housing developments that are not in the local plan (SAMDev). Shropshire currently has 5.43 years of housing land supply, down a fraction from 5.47 years last autumn. Developers are claiming in their planning applications, at appeal hearings and at the SAMDev inquiry that we have much less than five years land in the bank. The rules that surround land supply calculations are arcane. At the end of last year, MPs called for them to be revised.

If Shropshire does not have a five year land supply, its local plan, the core strategy, is out-of-date according to the rules in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). It must approve housing schemes according to the presumption in favour of sustainable development, not the local plan.

Sustainability has three dimensions according to the NPPF; economic, social and environmental. MPs have said planning inspectors and councils end to ignore the environmental and social dimensions of sustainability in favour of the economic case for development.

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