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A Revised Local Plan

September 7, 2021 5:45 PM
By David Hughes
Originally published by Derbyshire Dales Liberal Democrats
House building

How many homes are needed?

Derbyshire Dales District Council has started revising the 2017 Local Plan that will dictate where most new housing and business premises will be built. The new plan will be adopted in June 2023 but residents have two opportunities for commenting, next summer and in April 2023.

The District Council has already started a search for suitable sites and has commissioned various reports including one assessing the demand for housing in the District.

The base line estimate was produced using a new method introduced by Government which indicated that there was a need for 230 new homes each year across the whole District with 210 of those to be in the part outside the Peak District national park. This compares with a requirement in the current Local Plan of 284 homes.

But the consultants who developed the demand estimate made three other projections, one based on a Cambridge Econometrics' economic forecast of increased jobs, that would require 239 homes, and two based on the District Council's own Economic Plan giving rise to more jobs and a need for 275 homes or 302 homes each year.

Pick a number - between 230 & 302!

So the District has now to choose which estimate to take between 230 and 302 homes each year in comparison with the current 284 homes. The District Council also has to take account of interference by the Planning Inspectorate which rejected the last plan because its view was that the number of homes forecast was too low.

The number of homes seems directly related to the number of new jobs that will be created, ranging from 2,120 to 4,675 by 2040.

So how many jobs will go to local people, and how many to others? Or to put it another way, is house building in Derbyshire Dales just going to support commuting to places where there are jobs?

At the moment there are 1,050 unemployed people in Derbyshire Dales according to the County Council, representing a rate of 2.5%. Neighbouring districts in Derbyshire have similar low rates of 3.6%. So growth in employment will involve more housing being built. So the question to be raised is do we need the extra jobs in Derbyshire Dales?

So, if more housing is needed, will it be affordable to the people filling these extra jobs? The answer may be no. Median wages in Derbyshire Dales are well below the national average and the higher employment forecasts from the Economic Recovery Plan points to increased jobs in hospitality and tourism where wages are low. With a focus on private housing, relatively high house prices and a reluctance of builders to provide affordable housing, the new houses are unlikely to support these new jobs but will lead to more commuting outside the District.

With the Local Plan now being discussed by your councillors, it is important that you make your views heard.