Inspector’s Discussion Document D7

Consideration whether Additional Modification 43 should be regarded as a Main Modification

A number of representations to the advertised main Modifications comment that Additional Modification 43 should be regarded as a Main Modification.

The Plan is being examined in relation to NPPF2012. Unlike paragraphs 67 and 73 of the 2019 NPPF which require both a housing trajectory and an identified housing supply for the first five years of the plan period to be included as policies within the Plan, only the first bullet of paragraph 47 of NPPF2012 sets out a requirement for the Local Plan. The subsequent bullets advising that a local planning authority should identify and update annually a five-year supply of specific deliverable sites and illustrate the rate of housing delivery through a housing trajectory are silent on whether these documents should be included within the plan itself.

As submitted, VALP contained neither a housing trajectory nor a projection of identified five-year housing supply of deliverable sites. Paragraph 3.78 referred to a housing trajectory accompanying the plan as part of its evidence base. In general, plans should be self-contained, not necessitating a referral to outside documents and so I endorsed the inclusion of the trajectory within the plan as a Main Modification (MM023).

A projection of an identified five-year housing supply of deliverable sites is a different matter. As submitted, paragraph 3.78 of the Plan relied on the housing trajectory to demonstrate how a five-year housing supply would be maintained; an itemised five-year supply was not included. There are obvious difficulties with doing so because the lifetime of the plan is 20 years. A five year supply is required to be identified annually and so 20 successive five year supplies will need to be identified, with no indication within NPPF2012 as to which, if any, should be included within the Plan. Moreover, by the time of its submission, almost five years had elapsed from the start date of the Plan, during which time, as Table 7 of the submitted Plan demonstrates, a five-year supply based on the averaging of the total requirement for the plan period had clearly not been delivered. I did not therefore require the identification of a five-year supply as a Main Modification.

The Council is entitled to make non-material amendments to the Plan in the form of Additional Modifications without reference to me. It has chosen to include paragraph 3.89 and Table 9 as such a non-material Additional Modification. It is non-material because it has no policy significance; unlike plans prepared under the 2019 NPPF there is no process of “confirming” a five-year Housing Land Supply for a plan being examined under NPPF2012. Nor would Table 9 as included in the Additional Modification be eligible for confirmation because its preparation does not include the prescribed 10% buffer. Moreover, it is a statement of a five-year supply from an arbitrary date, neither the first five years of the plan period nor five years from the expected date of adoption of the plan (as would be expected of a plan being examined under the 2019 NPPF). It therefore has no significance other than as evidence in support of the test of the first bullet point of NPPF2012 paragraph 47. Its inclusion would not make the Plan unsound, since it appears to be a factually correct statement of a projection but I do not see the need for me to consider further any representations made in respect of it.

P. W. Clark

24 November 2020