Homes plan not based on reality

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Plans to build 12,200 new homes in the Lancaster district have been described as “disconnected from reality” after new population figures were published.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released data suggesting that only half this amount could be needed, as new figures project a population growth of less than half of that previously thought.

The figures show that population in the district is expected to grow by 4,200 by 2021, rather than 8,500, and the same again for the period 2021-2031.

Last month, Lancaster City Council announced it was considering several options to deal with a significant increase in people, including a new town of 5,000 homes to the north east of the city.

But the Green Party in Lancaster has called on the city council to undertake a complete overhaul of the target so that the amount of greenfield land allocated for new houses is significantly reduced and matched more closely to likely population growth.

Lancaster City Council said that it would be asking consultants Turley to recalculate the figures.

Coun Tim Hamilton-Cox said: “The ONS population projections are used by government to inform household formation projections which government guidance says should, in turn, ‘provide the starting point estimate of overall housing need.’ That means the projections need to be reduced accordingly and Turley has used what are now out-of-date projections.

“These new figures further undermine the city council’s claim that we need to plan for over 12,000 new homes over the next 20 years to meet the district’s housing needs.”

Coun Janice Hanson, cabinet member for planning and regeneration, said: “It is important to be clear that the consultant’s advice about numbers is just that - advice!

“No decisions have been taken by councillors and we are keen to get the responses from communities before decisions are taken.

“The recent ONS figures demonstrate the pitfalls of the Government’s approach. We’ll be asking Turley to recalculate based on the new figures and pointing out to government the unpredictability of its 20 year timeframe.”

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said:

“The Government has scrapped top down Regional Strategies and given councils the ability to shape whether development should and shouldn’t go ahead through Local Plans. Local councillors do have to make challenging decisions on how to provide more homes and protect the environment. But by having an up to date Local Plan in consultation with local residents, they will be in control of shaping development.”