Fylde Council has produced an Annual Position Statement (APS) to demonstrate that it has a five-year supply of housing sites. Under government policy, councils that do not have a five-year supply are at risk of losing planning appeals and being forced to accept housing proposals on sites that are not allocated for development and so would normally be refused.

The adopted Local Plan states that 479 homes need to be built every year until the end of the plan period in 2032. With a 10% buffer added, the requirement for the five years is 2,637 new homes. However, a planning inspector appointed on behalf of the Secretary of State, has assessed the Council’s annual position statement and decided that the number of homes that the Council is required to provide sites for should be increased, disregarding the adopted Local Plan. In considering the APS, the Inspector concludes that sites for 3,199 homes are needed, equivalent to 640 homes each year.

Having made adjustments to the Council’s projections, the Inspector assessed that the Council had sites to provide for 2,672 new homes. However, he said that this was not enough, even though it is more than the adopted Local Plan requires.

Fylde Council does not accept the Inspector’s rejection of the approach taken in the adopted Local Plan. Accordingly, the Council has published its Annual Position Statement with the inspector’s adjustments to delivery on sites. The Council’s statement concludes that Fylde has a five-year supply of housing sites, in conflict with the Inspector’s conclusion.

The Council has requested the Planning Inspectorate to reconsider the matter, but they have declined.  The Council has no option but to seek a judicial review of the Inspector’s decision. The matter will be considered in the High Court.

Chairman of the Planning Committee Dr Trevor Fiddler said: “The APS procedure would appear to be a sensible and efficient way for councils to fix their five-year housing land supply. It is unfortunate that the Inspector appears to have fallen into error in this case. If the Inspector’s approach here is repeated, it could be a huge disincentive for councils to issue an APS, and would undermine the whole APS procedure and the plan-led system.”