Does Ryedale have a five year land supply? : 8th December 2010


Development limits are not just lines drawn on maps to frustrate developers: they are there to give confidence to residents within and outside these lines in regard to the amenities which they will or will not enjoy. They have been set by the current local plan after a full public consultation and government inspection.


We are now going through another local plan process (the Ryedale Plan or “LDF”).Last year this was subject to a public consultation, and in answer to public concern, the Council promised to retain all development limits until changed by the new Ryedale Plan.


This is a promise which Ryedale has already broken.


A few months ago Ryedale granted planning permission for 186 new homes at the Westfield, Nurseries Site, Norton. This is outside the town’s development limits. This month, Ryedale will be considering granting consent for 300 new houses between Broughton Road and Pasture Lane, Malton and another 100 dwellings at Cheesecake Farm, Norton – both sites outside development limits. Why?


The real reason is that Ryedale wants planning gain money from developers to fund projects such as the Brambling Fields Junction. This is a project I have supported in the past, but not at the expense of inundating Malton and Norton with new development which will only turn traffic congestion within the towns into a nightmare.

One of the reasons justifying the immediate release of land outside development limits is a government edict which compels councils to keep a five year supply of residential building land. If there is not enough such land, land outside development limits has to be considered so as to make up the difference.


The five years land supply depends on many complex factors. One of these is the number of houses actually built from year to year. Ryedale has committed itself to building 200 new houses a year, when over the last eight years the average building rate has been 150 houses a year. The 200 a year target has been set by the Government Office at Leeds, but it is the Coalition Government’s policy to abolish prescribed targets of this kind and to allow Councils to set their own targets.


The intention to abolish these prescribed targets remains even though the Government has lost a case in the High Court because they tried to abolish regional targets without going through Parliament. So it should be in Ryedale’s interest to set its own five year housing supply target, using a lower, more realistic annual building rate than the prescribed 200 houses a year. However, even before the Government lost its High Court Case, Ryedale had decided to stick with 200 houses a year.


When Councils are short of five year housing supply land, they are usually tasked to look at every available site (including potential “windfall” sites) so as to check their figures, and if more land is still required, to consult on additional land – preferably at sites which are unlikely to be controversial. I do not know to what extent this has been done. Certainly there has been no consultation on new sites to plug the gap.


We are now told that Ryedale has a 4.15 years supply of residential land. This means that Ryedale falls short of the five year target by 170 houses. So why are we now considering planning consent for 400 new houses outside development limits?


If Ryedale were to adopt a house building rate of 150 houses a year, Ryedale would be able to show that it has more than a five year supply.


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