Council sets its long term housing target
Mansfield District Council has set its target for the amount of new homes to be built across the District until 2031.
At a meeting of the Council on 24 April, councillors agreed to set a target of 391 new homes per year, a total of 7,820. This will now be included in the Council's Core Strategy, which will set out the long term vision, objectives and strategy for future development of the District. When complete, the Core Strategy and the other Local Development documents will provide the planning policy background against which the Council will determine planning applications and take forward its regeneration programmes and projects.
It was also agreed that an additional 20% of land (1,564 dwellings in total) should be identified within the Core Strategy for future release, only if the economy and building rates improve to such a degree that the additional land is considered necessary.
The need to set a new housing target for the District is due to the Government's intention to abolish the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) which currently sets out the dwelling requirements for the District at 530 new homes per year.
The decision to select the new target follows a consultation, which took place between 20 December 2011 and 31 January 2012, with residents, businesses, developers and other interested parties, who were asked to select their preferred level of development. People were asked to choose from one of four options, or propose an alternative. Over 550 people responded with 28% selecting the base level (221 homes per annum) and 28% opting for the highest level (555 homes per annum).
A number of presentations on the new homes topic were given to schools and youth groups, leading up to a youth debate between schools representatives, the Youth Mayor and Deputy Youth Mayor in February. The ideas and comments from the debate were put forward to the Council for consideration.
Councils are required to set targets for housing growth and are being encouraged by the Government to be 'pro-growth' and 'pro-development', particularly in relation to job creation. An intention to promote a growth agenda is expressed in the Sustainable Community Strategy (SCS) 2010-2020 produced by the Mansfield Area Strategic Partnership (MASP). The SCS states that a strategy for growth will be pursued for housing and for employment development to provide the basis for economic growth improved quality of life for local people, to attract new jobs as well as provide high quality housing to attract and retain skilled workers.
For these reasons, at a meeting of the Council held on 13 December 2011, Councillors favoured the highest option (11,100 new homes between 2011 and 2031 - an average of 555 dwellings per year) for consultation purposes. However, councillors stressed that public consultation was important and the views would help in informing the final decision.
After carefully considering all the information, and especially the split in public opinion between the base and high level options, the Council decided not to pursue the high option but to move to the medium level approach. This reflects the Government's growth projections, and is still aspirational in terms of previous build rates, and will help to meet predicted future housing need. It was also considered to better reflect the balance between the needs for development and the protection of the environment.
Mansfield's Executive Mayor Tony Egginton said: "This is a positive figure which gives us the support for growth tied in with economic development and job opportunities."