Thank you for your letter regarding the above. I write to explain the current situation and progress regarding our work in assessing housing need in Guildford.
Government policy, as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, requires housing need to be assessed through a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) covering the relevant Housing Market Area. As the draft Guildford SHMA sets out, the Housing Market Area includes Waverley and Woking Boroughs alongside Guildford. The three boroughs together have commissioned GL Hearn to prepare a joint SHMA Report.
Work on this is ongoing. As part of this, we have been seeking to address the concerns which have been raised regarding the demographic projections for Guildford. Since the draft Guildford SHMA was prepared, the Office for National Statistics has published a new set of (2012-based) population projections. We have been interrogating these.
The additional work which we are undertaking includes both detailed interrogation of population dynamics and a sensitivity analysis, as you have requested. The sensitivity analysis is considering alternative scenarios for migration, household formation rates and how economic growth might influence future housing need, as the Government’s Planning Practice Guidance requires.
To support the robustness of the work undertaken, the Councils have retained Edge Analytics who have been critically reviewing, commenting and informing the demographic analysis which we have been undertaking.
We understand that the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) is due to publish new household projections, based on the 2012-based Population Projections, and that these are due to be issued in December. CLG has not been able to give us a definitive date. We are keen if possible that these are reflected in the Joint SHMA Report.
The sensitivity analysis will have been completed once the household projections have been published and, following sign-off from the Councils, the SHMA Report covering the three authorities is due to be published in December 2014. The detailed further work on demographic projections will be set out within this report which will be publically available.
It is important to remember that the analysis of housing need from the SHMA must be undertaken independently from considerations related to land supply, infrastructure of Green Belt; but that these considerations are clearly of retevance in drawing up policies for future housing provision as part of the local plan process. This is clearly set out in Government policy. As such, the assessment of housing need does not represent a housing target, in terms of what should be planned for.
I am sure you will appreciate the need to get the analysis right. This is our key objective. If we can be of any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me.