Plan to build nearly 50,000 new homes
Councillors in Cornwall were called upon yesterday to recommend amending a draft planning document for the county by increasing the amount of new homes to be built by more than 5,000.
Council planners had called on councillors to consider raising the amount of homes to be built in the county by 2030 to 47,500 from the 42,250 as agreed by full council in the draft Local Plan in February.
The council's Environment, Heritage and Planning Portfolio Advisory Committee was asked to consider recommending the change to cabinet at an extraordinary meeting yesterday.
It decided to "work up" options on both housing figures for a report to the council's cabinet.
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Committee chairman Councillor Dick Cole said: "The debate was not about what the most appropriate figure was for Cornwall but what figure we could get past Government inspectors who are being dictated to by (Secretary of States) Eric Pickles."
The draft Local Plan was agreed upon by the last council following a heated debate in which an initial figure of 38,000 homes was discarded.
The vision for Cornwall is designed to replace the National Planning Policy Framework currently used for planning decisions, and would need Secretary of State approval to be implemented.
However, in a recommendation to councillors, strategic policy manager, Steve Havers, advised the increase to boost the plan's chances of being accepted and implemented quickly.
"Typically, other plans that have been submitted with a target lower than their demographic projection... have been rejected by the Planning Inspectorate before the examination or have failed," he said.
"A plan found unsound cannot be adopted by the council. Submission of a weak plan and, or failure at the examination will significantly delay the adoption of the plan due to the risk of the inspectorate suspending the examination to require further work and consideration. This will incur both costs and a delay in time before a plan is adopted.
"Officers believe that a target based on the housing need arising from the basic demographic projections in our recent strategic housing market assessment, of 47,500 is the lowest that could be robustly defended at the examination."
If the council proposes to change the draft plan it would require further consultation before it is submitted to the Secretary of State.
When the plan was last discussed at full council, figures as low as 29,000 were put forward by councillors amid warnings "too many houses could ruin the county".
However, members eventually opted for 42,250 homes with 58 voting in favour, 33 against while two abstained.