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New Forest District Council worst in the country for housing delivery, says government

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New Forest District Council managed to provide just 35% of its assessed need over three years
New Forest District Council managed to provide just 35% of its assessed need over three years

NEW FOREST District Council has been ordered to find more land for development after it was named as the worst in the UK at designating enough sites for homes.

According to figures released by the government, through its planning policies, the authority managed to provide just 35% of its assessed need in the three years since 2015/16 – supplying 755 of the 2,144 calculated as required for its citizens living outside the national park.

Responding for the Conservative-controlled council, chief planning officer Claire Upton-Brown said the measure took no account of the actual targets it was working towards in the development policies of its current Local Plan – which she said are “significantly lower”.

She blamed that on the wider south-east plan which, she said, had “recognised the need for very restricted growth” in the region and had been backed at the time by a government-appointed inspector.

She pointed out NFDC’s draft new Local Plan, which has an “appropriate” higher target of about 10,500 homes by 2036, will be assessed by a planning inspector in the summer.

Mrs Upton-Brown said: “Good quality, affordable housing remains of paramount importance to the council and we welcome anything that enables us to deliver an appropriate level of new housing for our community.

“We would like to reassure our residents that this 35% housing delivery score should not be of concern as we are already well on our way to accelerating the numbers of new homes built in the New Forest district to meet housing need, whilst taking into consideration the special characteristics of the area.”

Because it scored between 25% and 85%, NFDC must identify 20% more land for development than originally required in the five-year housing supply in its Local Plan.

Cllr David Harrison, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group on NFDC, said the result was a “massive failure” by the Tory administration.

“We all know that there are about 3,000 people on the waiting list for council housing, with an average wait time of 10 years. The council has also failed to provide properly for homeless people,” he said.

“On top of that, there is almost a complete absence of affordable housing, forcing our young people to live out of the area. I have every intention of making this a campaign issue as we approach the elections in May.”

The figures from the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government showed the next worst local authorities after NFDC were Calderdale with 36% and Redbridge on 38%. The most successful more than doubled their targets.

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