Census prompts revision of future housing needs
Despite the council’s hard fought battle to get its Core Strategy for 10,500 homes across West Berkshire by 2026 approved, pressure from the Government could drive the number up by more than 6,000.
On Thursday the council told members of the public it would wait until the 2011 census was published before looking at the size of the housing stock it would attempt to deliver.
According to the first release of the Census the number of people living in West Berkshire in the last decade had risen by 9,000 and is likely to be reflected in the revised figure.
A Government Inspector found holes in the Core Strategy and hinted that the real number should be closer to 16,000.
It has since emerged that 10,500 was a bottom line figure.
It is likely that 2,000 homes will be built on Sandleford Park following a failed campaign to derail the Core Strategy by protesters SayNOtoSandleford.
On Thursday, campaign group spokesman Peter Norman asked the council’s ruling executive what the real figure would be.
The council’s planning spokesman, Keith Chopping (Con, Sulhamstead), said he could not accept Mr Norman’s suggestion that the Inspector felt the number of homes drawn up in the Core Strategy was inadequate, but stopped short of giving a revised figure.
“The Planning Inspector has found the Core Strategy sound and compliant with the legal regulations. This is not, as you claim, a "half-hearted" endorsement but a positive endorsement of the council's intention to deliver housing through the planning system,” he said.
“The Planning Inspector has not stated that the 10,500 number is inadequate nor that the 16,000 homes is closer to the mark or that there is an acute shortage of housing. Instead he has raised an issue in regard to the justification of the housing numbers in light of the requirements to the National Planning Policy Framework.
“This is why he has asked the council to review the housing provision in three years with a fully NPPF compliant way.”
Mr Chopping said the council would look to the findings of the 2011 census before making a decision on the exact number of homes the Core Strategy will include.
“This will be subject to an assessment and needs to be completed within three years,” he added.
Mr Norman asked what plan the council had in the eventuality that the 10,500 provision would be inadequate.
He was again told that the plan would take into account the 2011 census.
*THE initial release by the ONS showed the number of people living in West Berkshire in March 2011 was 153,800.
This is a 6 per cent increase in population in the last decade.
The number of people aged over 65 has risen by just under 4,500 - or 23 per cent. There are now a third more people aged over 85 living in the district.
Since 2011 the number of people of older working age; 40-64, increased by 7,500.
The data shows a rise of just over 1,500 people aged 0-19 between 2001-2011, an increase of four per cent.
There has been a drop in the number of people aged 20-39 living in West Berkshire of just over 4,000, or 10 per cent.