Here's a view on the Government White Paper from BAG - we think we should look to our MP to pick this up from here, what do you think?
Basildon Council bosses no longer sure 16,000 homes needed.
Basildon Council now questioning their own supposedly “robust” figure.
At Basildon Borough Council’s meeting (BBC) on Feb 17th Cllr Dr. Richard Moore announced that the OAN is going to be reviewed to take into account more up to date information. His comments were backed up by Cllr Phil Turner (BBC Leader) who also appeared to question whether the need for 16,000 homes was correct.
They’re now saying the OAN might not be correct? The OAN they have repeatedly said was “robust”? The OAN that is a foundation stone of the Local Plan?
Where did they get the idea that the OAN number was no longer “robust”? What triggered this change of heart?
This is the number that BAG’s White Paper challenged as “excessive”; the White Paper which the Cllr Moore has said was “a useful contribution to the debate”. This is the White Paper that Basildon have refused point blank to consider.
Cllr Turner stated that a new Council official has been tasked with challenging the numbers; numbers that consultants, the BBC Planning Department and Councillors had signed off!
Confused? So are we.
Cllr Turner is quoted in the Echo as saying “I live in hope that it is going to be a game changer”.
Better late than never, but can we suggest he starts by reading our White Paper ? It’s free of charge (unlike a second round of consultants).
We welcome this apparent change of heart - and we “live in hope” that this time they’ll conclude that a lower figure is sensible, sustainable and acceptable both to the Planning Inspectorate and residents.
Following the release of our White Paper challenging Basildon Council’s excessively high housing target a number of replies have been received by the Billericay Action Group, mainly expressing their thanks and support. These have come from politicians of all parties. We are also aware of individual residents who have written to their local Basildon Councillor expressing their concerns and who have also received replies.
Formal responses have been received from our local MP, John Baron and from Councillor Dr. Richard Moore who wrote on behalf of all of the Billericay Borough Councillors.
We welcome John Baron’s response to our White Paper where he clearly confirms our view that the high number of 16,000 was chosen by Basildon Borough Council and not set by Central Government:
“The numbers … in the Local Plan are not Government driven targets. The Government has made it clear that it is up to local Councils to determine the need for housing in their local area and to act appropriately to fulfil it”. - John Baron
Mr Baron also states that any figure must be realistic in meeting the demands of local population growth. We note that he does not say we must also meet the needs of large scale migration; he refers only to local population growth.
Unfortunately he also repeats the assertion that there must be a Local Plan in place to prevent uncontrolled development in the Borough. This echoes the response from Basildon Council.
BAG has stated on many occasions that we fully understand the need for a Local Plan and repeat our view that a bad plan is as bad, if not worse than no plan.
BAG have been working on a White Paper analysing how Basildon Borough Council (BBC) produced a target of 16,000 homes, termed the Objectively Assessed Need (OAN). This number was questioned by BAG and by many residents in their response to the Consultation Process during March 2014, yet it still stands. BAG concluded that the 16,000 homes assessed by BBC as being needed to meet future growth to 2031 is unnecessarily high. Our intention is to get BBC to revisit this number and to significantly reduce it.
BBC's recommendation is not “robust” and despite their claim otherwise the Government have not dictated the number: it is BBC's choice from a range of options available to them. BAG believe that the proposed OAN of 16,000 homes (including 2,500 for Billericay) goes far beyond the figure needed to satisfy the National Planning Inspectorate.
Our conclusions are based on detailed analysis of BBC's “Housing Growth Topic Paper” and other documents which look at different scenarios and projections - such as “Natural Growth” and various “Migration” based projections. BBC has chosen to reject these scenarios instead choosing a far higher number based on an “Economic Scenario”.
BAG WHITE PAPER UPDATED
Our latest revision includes a new, vitally important section showing that Building on Green Belt is a choice, not an obligation. Basildon can choose NOT to build on Green Belt.
No one from Basildon Borough Council has publicly (or privately) challenged anything in our previous versions. Absolutely no one. However, Borough Cllr Dr Richard Moore, responsible for Planning seemed to be echoing our calls for a revision of the numbers in December : “I can confirm that this council …. is considering revisiting the Objectively Assessed Needs … It could in turn inform whether the housing targets for south Essex local plans need to change” whilst Leader of the Council Phil Turner has said that a new Council official has been charged with challenging the numbers
A few months ago we released our White Paper showing that Basildon Borough Council’s “Objectively Assessed Need” (OAN) of 16,000 homes was unjustified. Our newly updated version has just been sent to all Borough Councillors, our MP and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates. It’s worth noting that no one from Basildon Borough Council - political or professional - has either publicly or privately challenged anything in our White Paper. Absolutely no-one.
This latest version includes new or enlarged sections including one on Affordability where we show that Basildon Borough Council can meet, or even exceed, its Affordable Housing need without requiring a high OAN.
You can download the original white paper and associated summary here:
BAG’s argument is based on detailed analysis of BBC’s Housing Growth Topic Paper (HGTP) and other documents. The HGTP looks at scenarios and projections of various types such as Natural Growth, Migration and others.
BBC has chosen to reject these scenarios. They have instead chosen to utilise a much higher Economic Scenario. This choice is made despite the flawed assumptions built into the scenario, the social consequences of these flaws and the criticism of this approach by the TGSE Partnership and their planning consultants.
See responses to questions posted by BAG, Billericay Society and Billericay Residents' Association.
Aims of BAG
To protect the green belt around Billericay from development.
To prevent the character of our historic town from forever being destroyed.
Link to Basildon Council Local Plan pages
Link to Basildon Council Billericay traffic mitigation document
Reasons to respond to this consultation -Click here