Local planning authorities could be facing the prospect of housing targets even higher than those in the revoked Regional Spatial Strategies.
Hearings on East Hampshire DC’s joint core strategy with the South Downs National Park Authority ended last month. However the inspector has now written to the council saying that he has serious concerns about the soundness of the plan.
The strategy seeks to provide 8,500 new homes during the plan period to 2028, including 2,725 homes at eco-town site Whitehill and Bordon. But the inspector’s note said that while the figures conform to the South East regional strategy, evidence submitted to the examination suggests that there is a need for at least 11,308 to 11,770 new homes up to 2028.
In the inspectors view the council has failed to produce an up to date strategic housing market assessment (SHMA) for the district, which makes it difficult to fully assess housing needs in line with the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
The authority’s assertion that environmental constraints prevent it from meeting the objectively assessed housing need was also criticized. Whilst it is accepted by the inspector that 60 per cent of the district falls within the South Downs National Park he felt that the council and national park authority have not fulfilled their duty to cooperate with neighboring local authorities to satisfy any unmet housing need.
East Hampshire had submitted to the examination a local housing requirements study produced in 2011 and a housing needs assessment update for 2012.But it admitted that further work around the SHMA would enable it to "clarify the housing need" and give the council more certainty over delivery around the social, economic and environmental constraints.