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Milton Keynes Council Cannot Demonstrate a 5 Year Housing Land Supply

The Secretary of State has published his conclusions on the ‘Frosts’ appeal decision this week, and determined that Milton Keynes Council cannot demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply regardless of the methodology used.

The Secretary of State concludes:

“The Secretary of State has given very careful consideration to the Inspector’s assessment of the evidence on housing land supply at IR166-173. For the reasons given by the Inspector, the Secretary of State shares her view that the Council has not presented evidence to the inquiry to demonstrate that it has a 5 year housing land supply and that this would be the case whether the Liverpool or the Sedgefield method of dealing with the backlog were employed and regardless of how the buffer were dealt with (IR173). As indicated by the Inspector (IR173), the Secretary of State observes that, in these circumstances, paragraph 49 of the Framework sets out that relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered up-to-date.”

He continues:

“Moving on to the Inspector’s remarks at IR174-175, the Secretary of State concurs with her that LP Policy S10 is inextricably linked with the constraining effect of settlement boundaries on the CS housing requirement, as are CS policies CS2 and CS9 which carry those settlement boundaries forward (IR174). He further agrees that in this respect they are relevant polices for the supply of housing within the meaning of paragraph 49 of the Framework and are to be considered out of date and that the presumption in favour of sustainable development outlined in paragraph 14 bullet point 4 of the Framework applies (IR174). Like the Inspector (IR174), the Secretary of State considers that it is unnecessary for him to consider any further whether LP Policy S10 is out-of-date for other reasons.”

While this is a landmark  decision in terms of the consideration of 5 year housing land supply in Milton Keynes, the decision needs to be treated with caution.  The Council cannot currently demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply but the Inspector concluded that in the balance of other considerations, namely a sustainable location, previously developed site, landscape and countryside impact and a reduction in heavy goods vehicle movements, that the development was acceptable.

Milton Keynes Council had planned on producing a Site Allocations Development Plan Document quickly in advance of the publication of the new local plan: Plan:MK to provide additional sites to boost the supply of housing but this has been bogged down in political discussion.  Preferred Options are due to be published this month.

In the absence of a 5 year housing land supply and the delay in the Site Allocations DPD publication, there is likely to be an increase in the number of planning applications for housing in the rural areas, however applicants need to remember that while the lack of a 5 year housing land supply is a significant consideration in the decision making process, it is only one part of the balancing exercise in the determination of planning applications.

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