Lead Councillor at Guildford Borough Council Stephen Mansbridge speaks about Housing Numbers and the Local Plan

In an exclusive interview with Effingham Residents Association web editor Councillor Stephen Mansbridge spoke about Housing numbers and the Local Plan

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Cllr Stephen Mansbridge

Cllr Stephen Mansbridge:

In terms of housing numbers and the SHMA (see below).  Back in 2009 the SHMA number was about 641 and today it is 620 and it will probably go down further. It is what it is. There has been a great deal of concern about this SHMA number and the Company we employed to help us determine the number. Whilst this time round there has been a great deal of criticism there was actually no criticism in 2009 . But it is not about the pinpoint accuracy of the SHMA number that matters, what matters is what you extract from those numbers – that which will become the actual housing number.

In 2009 people spoke about the number 322 but it bore no relationship with the then SHMA.  The figure 322 was an entirely manufactured number. The reason it went up to 422 is that the then Housing Minister arbitrarily added a 100 to it.   So you can see that there is no logical relationship between the SHMA and the actual housing number.  Actually this number 422 was all part of the South East Plan, which we managed to have overturned in the High Court.  In hindsight that may have been a empiric victory although it may have appeared to be the absolute right thing to do at the time.

So what we need to do is to create that logical relationship between the SHMA number and whatever our housing number will be and what sits in between that are the constraints.  (Constraints on developments such as infrastructure problems and Green Belt can be found in the NPPF – National Planning Policy Framework)

Therefore whatever the view is of those constraints we are in the last stages of getting all the transport and infrastructure information we need in order to be able to start to make those (site) assessments and for people to be involved in that assessment process as well.  In the end this will provide us with our housing number.

We have already consulted on a number of sites – far more than we will ever need.  And we will not be required to do all that work again.

You asked about our PR.  We tried to put out lots of information. Unfortunately people have very limited experience in Local Plans because they come about relatively infrequently and the problem with that infrequency is that unless you go out and recruit experts then everyone else is learning on the job.

Council Leaders and Members change fairly frequently and are not necessarily familiar with the Local Plan process. Particularly when in 2012 the NPPF changed the way we carry out the Local Plan process.  So initially no one knew with this exactly where we were going and that did affect, to some degree, our PR messaging but people do need to put aside some of their ideas about housing numbers and the Local Plan because they have not got it right ……


SHMA (Strategic Housing Market Assessments – i.e. the number of houses identified as being required in the first instance before any constraints are applied).  Ed 

To be continued

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