Northampton looks to tackle five-year land supply shortfall

Published: Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Northampton Borough Council’s Cabinet will consider measures to tackle a shortfall in potential housing delivery for the next five years.

Under current planning rules, councils across the country are required to demonstrate that they have an adequate supply of land for anticipated housing need.

In the absence of this, and where planning applications have been refused, decisions at appeal can be weighted in favour of developers.

Northampton currently has the potential to supply 8,328 homes during the next five years, against a Government expectation of 12,703, plus the 2011-16 shortfall of 712.

But in areas which are felt to have persistently under-delivered, the Government also requires an additional buffer of 20 per cent. Northampton is one such area.

This means 13,415 homes would be expected to be built in the borough during this time, leaving a shortfall of 5,087.

As a result, in recent months, the secretary of state has allowed two large developments in the Northampton area, which were previously refused by the borough council’s planning committee.

During the meeting on Wednesday, 19 October, cabinet will be asked to approve the investigation of a raft of potential measures to tackle the problem.

Cllr Tim Hadland, cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, said: “If we don’t do something to tackle this situation, more and more undesirable developments could be approved at appeal.

“New planning policies are weighted in favour of developers where sufficient land supply in other areas cannot be demonstrated.

“Ours is not a unique position – local authorities across the country are in a similar predicament – and the measures suggested in this report could help us address that.” Possible measures to tackle the shortfall include:

  • Identifying sites that may not be progressing as expected, the reasons for delays, and possible solutions
  • Identifying barriers currently faced by start-up and SME house builders and supporting them on things like access to funding, identifying suitable sites and improving the planning process
  • Working with our partners to overcome blockages to house building, such as delivery of road schemes or utilities connections
  • Working in partnership with Daventry and South Northamptonshire councils to identify appropriate land and ensure that funding, developer contributions and infrastructure are delivered to meet identified needs
  • Exploring new methods of housing delivery, beyond those already being employed such as self-build, new council homes
  • Identifying surplus public sector land and buildings for housing development and working with partners to deliver those